Municipal clerks are seeing record numbers of absentee ballot requests amid COVID-19 and November election worries.
That’s evidenced in how more people are voting absentee in 2020 than in the 2016 election, Village of Oregon director of administrative services Candie Jones, Town of Oregon clerk Jennifer Hanson and Village of Brooklyn clerk Linda Kuhlman each told the Observer in separate phone interviews.
The three each said they spend their days processing the rising absentee requests — and reassuring the public that voting by mail is a safe process. There are secure drop boxes at each village and town hall for people who want to take extra health precautions or may not trust that their ballot will be delivered on time. The public can also track their ballot’s delivery on myvote.wi.gov, Jones said.
“The ‘Track your Ballot’ option allows voters to check to see when we have received their absentee ballot request, when we approved (it), when we mailed a ballot to them, anticipated delivery of that ballot and when we received it back at the clerk’s office,” she said.
On Sept. 28, Jones said that about 3,400 of the Village of Oregon’s 7,468 registered voters had requested absentee ballots. She expected requests to increase to 50-100 per day as election day nears.
The requests are “more than double” what the village counted in the 2016 presidential election — around 1,900 out of 7,092 registered voters, Jones said.
She said 952 have come back as of Oct. 2.
Hanson and Kuhlman reported similar trends in the Town of Oregon and Village of Brooklyn.
Of the Town of Oregon’s 2,371 registered voters, 995 had been mailed absentee ballots as of Sept. 28, Hanson said. She said 306 completed ballots had come back. The town is averaging 20 requests per day, she said.
By comparison, the town mailed out 856 absentee ballots out of 2,100 voters in 2016, Hanson said.
Kuhlman said Oct. 2 that 296 voters in the Village of Brooklyn have filed absentee requests out of 900 registered voters. The village has received 120 back, she said.
“We’ve been getting anywhere from two to five requests per day,” Kuhlman said.
The village only processed 25 absentee ballots in the 2016 election. Kuhlman said the Village of Brooklyn had 888 registered voters then.
Each clerk encouraged the public to safely participate in this year’s election and to call their respective village and town halls if they have any questions. Jones encouraged voters to not wait until the last minute, especially if they are voting on Nov. 3.
“Make your voice heard,” Kuhlman said.
Email Emilie Heidemann at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.