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Three big changes to voting in Wisconsin in 2022, and one smaller one

Be sure your absentee ballot and witness form are filled out completely, or your vote might not count.

An absentee ballot drop box in Madison. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled them illegal. Photo by Peter Cameron.

By Peter Cameron, THE BADGER PROJECT

Since 2020, the state of Wisconsin has made several changes to the way it conducts elections. Read up on them here so you aren’t surprised on Election Day.

1. Drop boxes have been banned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. If you used one in previous elections to submit your absentee ballot, you’ll have to either mail it or deliver it personally to your municipal clerk’s office, the high court ruled.

2. However, if you have a disability, someone else may help you mail the ballot, or return it to your municipal clerk’s office for you. A federal judge made that ruling in August, citing the federal Voting Rights Act. Having a disability is a self-determination, said Riley Vetterkind, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission. No one is going to ask you or the person aiding you for a doctor’s note, but the person helping you cannot be your employer or an agent of your employer or labor union, he added.

3. If you are submitting an absentee ballot, make sure you and your witness fill out all the information properly. Last month, a Waukesha County judge ruled that clerks can no longer fill in missing information on absentee ballot witness documents.

“The best advice I can give there is paying close, close attention, making sure that everything on your ballot is filled out completely and properly,” Vetterkind said.

If you leave off some required information, your ballot might not count.

And in the wake of the high-profile case of a political activist who illegally requested multiple absentee ballots for different people, including for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason, be sent to his residence, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has made another change.

4. If an absentee ballot is requested to be sent somewhere other than to that voter’s address on file, the Wisconsin Election Commission will send a postcard to that address alerting the voter to the request, Vetterkind said.

The activist, Harry Wait, has been charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors for his request. He has pleaded not guilty and compared himself to the country’s founding fathers in describing his actions.

The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.

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