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April 7 presidential primary: Officials anticipate ‘500% increase’ in absentee voting amid coronavirus

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Neil Albrecht

Neil Albrecht

MILWAUKEE -- Ahead of the April 7 presidential primary, and amid coronavirus concerns, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht on Sunday, March 15 encouraged early voting and voting by absentee ballot.

"We don't want to lose one single voter in the City of Milwaukee," said Albrecht.

Important deadlines

  • Wednesday, March 18 is the last day for voter registration by mail or online.
  • Mailed applications must be postmarked by midnight March 18.
  • Online voter registration closes at 11:59 p.m. March 18.
  • Starting March 19, voters can still register to vote during the “closed registration period” in their municipal clerk’s office until the Friday before the election and at the polling place on election day.
  • Registered voters who want an absentee ballot should request one ASAP through MyVote.WI.gov. The official deadline to request an absentee ballot is April 2, but voters should not wait until the deadline.
  • Voters can also make an absentee ballot request in writing directly to their clerk’s office, either by regular mail, email or fax.

The in-person absentee voting schedule for the 2020 spring election is as follows:

Zeidler Municipal Building
841 N Broadway, Room 102

Midtown Center
5700 W Capitol Drive
(located west of Pick ‘n Save)

Zablocki Library
3501 W Oklahoma Ave

Monday, March 16—Sunday, April 5

Monday—Friday 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Saturday—Sunday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (March 28 & 29 and April 4 & 5)

You will be required to show your acceptable photo ID when voting by in-person absentee ballot.

Early voting

Here's how to request an absentee ballot (by April 2):

  • By Mail: Download the Application for Absentee Ballot.  Complete the form and mail it with a copy of your photo ID (if not previously provided) to: Election Commission, 200 E Wells St Room 501, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
  • By Email: send an email (absenteeballot@milwaukee.gov) with a copy of your photo ID attached (if not previously provided). If you do not attach the Application for Absentee Ballot to your email, please provide the following information in the text of your email:
    • Your Full Name
    • Voting Address
    • Specific election for which you would like a ballot or if you are requesting for the calendar year
    • Ballot Delivery preference: mailing address (if it is different from your voting address) or if you prefer to receive your ballot via email (emailed ballots must be printed and returned via mail at the voter's expense).
  • Online: applications can be submitted online at MyVote.  This is the fastest method of request for indefinitely confined and military voters.
  • Fax: you may fax your Application for Absentee Ballot to (414) 286-8445. Faxed photo IDs must be legible; we recommend lightening the ID on a copier before faxing it.
Mayor Tom Barrett

Mayor Tom Barrett

If you are not already registered, you will need to register to vote (by March 18) before an absentee ballot can be sent to you. A new voter registration application is required any time you move (even minor changes such as apartment units), change your name, or if you have not voted in the past four years.

As of Sunday, city leaders said they already received 12,000 absentee ballot requests.

"We anticipate that somewhere around 50 to 60,000 residents in this city will vote absentee by mail in this election," said Albrecht. "That represents a 500% increase."

State law requires poll workers to count those tens of thousands of absentee ballots on the day of the election -- and city leaders noted 50% of the city's poll workers are over the age of 60, the same group the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said is at an elevated risk -- leading to a call to action for young people, like high school and college students to replace the elderly at the polls.

"Many will ask, 'Who will do the work if I'm not there?'" said Mayor Barrett. "And we have to be prepared to answer that."

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