Why rejected absentee ballots may matter to battleground Wis.

“Every returned ballot, every vote is going to count in this election,” the Sun Prairie city clerk said.
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:16 PM CDT
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - Election officials are correcting absentee ballots until the last minute in battleground Wisconsin, where a narrow margin of votes helped decide the last presidential election.

The Sun Prairie Clerk’s Office is counting on all 16,481 absentee ballots requested (as of Thursday) to return unblemished. So far, city clerk Elena Hilby has contacted nearly 40 voters who have returned their ballots with at least one of these mistakes: no voter signature, no witness signature and no witness address.

“It really is this part that gets missed the most,” Hilby said, pointing to the “witness address” line on an absentee envelope.

She explained, “We’re definitely seeing mail-in voting numbers that we’ve never seen before, so I think it is very new for a lot of people.”

But time is ticking. Hilby recommends that voters do not mail their absentee ballots anymore. Throughout the city, there are three 24-hour dropboxes and two early voting locations where absentee ballots can be returned. Voters can also return their absentee ballots at their polling place on election day, before the 8 p.m. deadline.

“Every returned ballot, every vote is going to count in this election,” she said.

In 2016, President Trump won Wisconsin with roughly 23,000 more votes than his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

In the April election, the Wisconsin Elections Commission reported, more than 23,000 absentee ballots were tossed out due to mistakes or lateness.

“I do not believe we’re going to see large amounts of rejected ballots on election day,” Hilby said. “In general, there’s been a huge education push so people know what needs to be done on their certificate.”

Experts estimate more than 1 million absentee votes nationwide may be rejected in Tuesday’s election.

“I understand the confusion,” Timothy U’Ren, who has been voting absentee since the ’70s, said. “It would be nice if we had one system for all 50 states in the United States. I think the easier that you can make voting, the higher turnout you’re going to have in the long run.”

However first-time voter Montel Montgomery, who also dropped his absentee ballot early, said he ran into no issues completing this ballot. “I think more voters should be careful and read directions and just follow them so that those things are avoided in the future, so that every vote counts during this process,” he said.

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