2020 has been a year full of surprises. One of those surprises is many people for the first time will be voting by absentee ballot instead of going to the polls to cast their ballot on election day.
This is not just a national trend; Clerks in Burnett County are mailing out more absentee ballots than ever before.
In Webster, village clerk/treasurer Debra Doriott-Kuhnly received about five to seven absentee ballots to mail out. For the November election, she sent out 59 ballots, almost twice as many that were mailed for the presidential election in 2016.
To vote absentee you need to be registered to vote first and then can request an absentee ballot. Registered voters need to request a ballot before Oct. 29, which is the last day ballots will be mailed out.
Siren Village Clerk/Treasurer Ann Peterson has received 81 requests for absentee ballots. They received a total of 39 absentee ballots in 2016.
In Grantsburg, Village Clerk Sheila Meyer has sent out more than triple the amount sent out in 2016. So far this year they have sent out 152 ballots and in 2016 they mailed 49 ballots.
Wisconsin Watch has reported, "Wisconsin has already lowered the barriers to casting a mail-in ballot in some ways: the state offers no-excuse voting by mail and provides a wide window of opportunity to register and request a ballot. However, strict voter ID laws and problems during the April primary, which included thousands of rejected ballots, have sparked calls for Wisconsin to do better."
Back in Burnett County, none of the clerks reported issues with absentee ballots. However, four people cancelled their absentee ballots due to concerns with the postal service in Webster and Grantsburg received ballots after the election and were not counted.
Some voters do not trust the Postal Service will be able to get their ballots to the clerks on time. There’s a solution to that.
All three villages have a secure drop box at their office where voters can drop off their ballots instead of mailing them.
“There is a secure drop box outside the village office. Or, they can hand deliver their ballot to me and I will place it in a secure ballot box inside the office,” Doriott-Kuhnly said.
“I would also encourage those able to drop their completed ballot envelope in the Village's secure dropbox located at the front entrance to the office,” Meyer added.
Peterson said the Siren drop box is located right of the main doors of the Village Hall.
Wisconsin is also one of many states where voters can track their absentee ballot. Once your ballot is mailed you can check it’s status at myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyVoterInfo.
Voters not using absentee ballots can still vote on Nov. 3 at designated polling places from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and municipalities will start early voting on Oct. 20 during normal office hours.