Total Recall: How to vote absentee
Post by Christie Taylor on 5/15/2012 10:42am
Updated: May 21, 2012.
You can already get a start on voting in the June 5 recall election pitting Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett against Governor Scott Walker. Vacationers, students, and the extremely busy can request absentee ballots, as long as they are registered to vote* at their current address before requesting the absentee ballot.
Absentee ballots can be requested from local clerks by mail, fax, or e-mail: in Madison, the e-mail address for City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl is firstname.lastname@example.org. In an e-mail request, you must include your name, address, the address to which the ballot should be sent, and a signature, plus which election the ballot is for, e.g. “The June 5 recall election.” To snail-mail your request, download the request form from the Government Accountability Board website and mail it to (for Madison voters):
Madison City Clerk
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. #103
Madison, WI 53703.
Voters outside Madison should refer to the directory of city and county clerks to find the appropriate contact information.
Ballots, which should have been available Tuesday, won’t actually become available until Friday, thanks to a clash between the state's general election and recall calendars. The clerk’s office must receive your request by 5 p.m. on the Thursday before the election: so for the recall, that’s the 31st of May. If you are returning your ballot in person, you must return it to the clerk’s office no later than the day of the election: if you return it by mail, the ballot must be postmarked the day of the election, and received no later than the Friday following (June 8).
Beginning Monday, May 21, voters can also vote absentee in person--”early voting”--at their city clerk’s office. In Madison, this takes place at the City-County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Ave., 8 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., until the end of the business day on Friday June 1. Over Memorial Day weekend the hours will be 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on May 26, noon until 4 p.m. on May 27 and 9:00 a.m. until noon on Memorial Day.
A note of caution, though: To prevent disenfranchisement, the City of Madison Clerk’s Office advises absentee voters to pay close attention to the instructions that accompany their ballot, lest it not be counted on election day. A missing signature or improperly sealed envelope is enough to invalidate a ballot. And, again, it’s vital that voters are registered to vote at the address from which they are voting absentee--and that you actually return your ballot to the relevant clerk. Getting the ballot is only half the battle, and of the 5,223 absentee ballots issued citywide in the recall primary, nearly 900 weren’t returned, either at all, or in time to be counted.
For more instructions and advice on absentee voting, visit the G.A.B. and the City of Madison’s web pages.
*As for the state’s ongoing ID requirement limbo, the relevant portions of the state Voter ID law are still enjoined, and voters do not need to present ID to either vote or register. For those who have not yet registered, you still need only proof of residency (containing your complete name and complete address) to do so. Meanwhile, the voter ID case, rejected by the state Supreme court, now awaits a ruling by the court of appeals, while two other lawsuits against the law have yet to be decided.
Christie Taylor (@ctaylsaurus) covers science, environment, and, depending on the season, state politics for dane101. She verbs a lot of nouns, including rollerskates, radio, and Kurt Vonnegut. A Madison native, she's not sure she'll ever quite manage to leave Wisconsin, and that's just fine by her. Contact her at email@example.com.