Waiting for an absentee ballot? Election officials say ‘only option is to go to your voting center’

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee Election Commissioner Neil Albrecht spoke out Monday, April 6 -- concerned about the thousands of absentee ballots that must be postmarked by Tuesday, April 7 in order to count.

Voters in Wisconsin will face a choice Tuesday of participating in a presidential primary election or heeding warnings from public health officials to stay away from large crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued an order postponing the election for two months, the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday sided with Republicans who said he didn't have the authority to reschedule the race on his own. Conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court quickly followed with a ruling blocking Democratic efforts to extend absentee voting.

The decisions leave Wisconsin as the only state with an election scheduled in April that is proceeding as planned. As other states prepare to vote in May or June, Wisconsin will be closely watched for signs that fears of the coronavirus may depress turnout or cause other problems at the polls.

Evers said he had no other options after the state court ruled against him.

Milwaukee officials said roughly 100,000 absentee ballots were issued, and 55,000 had been turned in as of Monday -- with 45,000 still out there. Albrecht said 15,000 absentee ballots were requested Friday, April 3 or around Friday -- believing thousands won't have their ballots in on time.

"If you don't have an absentee ballot in your procession at this time, and don't have the opportunity to return it in the mail tomorrow, or take it to one of the drop-off sites -- in other words, you're still waiting for that absentee ballot, you're still waiting for some form of resolution in regard to...your only option vote in tomorrow's election is to go to your voting center to cast your ballot."

Absentee ballots must be postmarked by midnight.

If you plan to vote Tuesday, polls will be open (albeit far fewer than normal), and poll workers will be disinfecting all surfaces and booths while also enforcing social distancing.

Absentee ballot FAQs

Q: If my absentee ballot never made it to me, why can’t I get one emailed or faxed?

A: The absentee ballot deadline was Friday, April 3 -- an extension by the courts. That deadline also included any changes to the ballot request. After the request to receive the ballot, that voter can only appear in person, according to the law. The next opportunity for that is on Tuesday at the polls.

Q: Ballots with postmarks?

A: Through USPS, if the ballot has a postmark, that postmark cannot be later than April 7. If the ballot has a postmark of April 7 or earlier, it can be received through April 13.

Q: All the other ballots?

A: All ballots submitted by hand delivery, drop box, that come through post office, but without a postmark have to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Election results will not be announced until April 13.

Voting in Milwaukee Tuesday

In-person voting centers will be available at the following locations:

  • Aldermanic Districts 1*, 3 and 6: Riverside High School, 1615 E. Locust Street.
  • Aldermanic Districts 2, 5 and 9: Marshall High School, 4141 N. 64th Street.
  • Aldermanic Districts 4*, 12 and 14: South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham Boulevard.
  • Aldermanic Districts 7*, 10, and 15: Washington High School, 2525 N. Sherman Boulevard.
  • Aldermanic Districts 8, 11, and 13: Hamilton High School, 6215 W. Warnimont Avenue.

*Exceptions

  • District 1, Ward 47 (normally at Hampton School) will be voting at Washington High School
  • District 4, Ward 181 (normally at Charles Allis) will be voting at Riverside High School
  • District 7, Ward 107 (normally at Ben Franklin School) will be voting at Riverside High School
  • District 7, Ward 67 (normally at Barack Obama School) will be voting at Riverside High School

Voters are encouraged to confirm their ward number and voting center location at myvote.wi.gov by clicking the “Find My Polling Place” prompt at the top of the screen, or by visiting milwaukee.gov/election and clicking the “Where Do I Vote?” link.

Absentee voters are reminded to return their ballots either by mail or at any of the following City of Milwaukee absentee ballot drop box locations:

  • Mill Road Library
  • Washington Park Library
  • Bay View Library
  • Zablocki Library
  • Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building
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