Absentee ballots 2020

Clerks all over Dane County are encouraging voters to request absentee ballots by mail, rather than voting on Election Day.

As state and local officials have encouraged more Wisconsinites to vote absentee amid COVID-19 concerns, requests for the ballots in Oregon and Brooklyn have far exceeded that of previous years.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, March 23, clerks from the villages of Oregon and Brooklyn reported at least four times as many voters as had requested ballots in the entire 2016 spring election, the last one that was also a presidential primary. And more Town of Oregon voters had requested ballots voted in the Feb. 18 nonpartisan primary.

Those numbers include in-person filings.

In a March 17 news release, the Wisconsin Elections Commission reported absentee requests statewide are on a record pace. Many clerks in Dane County have urged voters to request ballots by mail rather than crowd the polls in the April 7 Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary.

Candie Jones, Village of Oregon clerk, told the Observer Monday was a busy day at village hall, and absentee requests had exceeded 1,600.

“It’s hard to provide an exact figure, as (numbers) are continuously coming in and (village staff) has to evaluate if they have a photo ID on file,” Jones told the Observer in an email.

In 2016, the village received 406 requests – 6.45% of total voters in the jurisdiction.

“Village Hall staff is working continuously and very well together,” Jones said. “Everyone is taking precautionary measures and disinfecting shared equipment.”

Village of Brooklyn clerk Linda Kuhlman said the municipality reached around 140 requests – compared with about 20-30 voters during the 2016 presidential primary election.

Jennifer Hanson, Town of Oregon clerk, said the town has processed 800 voters who filed absentee requests in that jurisdiction. She said the number of voters for the 2016 election included 261 absentee ballots of the 1,715 who voted.

The deadline to register to vote by mail was March 18, but voters can continue to get registered in-person, and registered voters can continue to request ballots by mail until 5 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at myvote.wi.gov.

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.