Across Wisconsin, people voted by absentee ballot in historic numbers this fall.
As of Monday, 1.9 million ballots had been either returned by mail or cast in person. Even with so many people voting early, election officials want the public to know they are ready for in-person voting Tuesday. It will mark the fourth statewide election of the year. Three have taken place since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Election officials say that polling places will be prepared with voter and poll worker health at the top of the list.
Meagan Wolfe, with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said, "Our poll workers have been trained to incorporate public health and social distancing into every step of the process."
She said hand sanitizer will be made available and surfaces will be cleaned per the Centers For Disease Control guidelines, but not everyone can be made to wear a mask.
“Masks are required for poll workers and observers. They’re also recommended unanimously by the bipartisan elections commission for voters but they are not required for voters because you can’t add an additional qualification to the constitutional right to vote,” Wolfe said.
In a media update Monday, Wolfe stressed that there are no known security threats to the state’s election system. Unlike in previous years, it’s not expected that we will know the results of the election Tuesday night.
Milwaukee County election officials say they likely won’t have all the absentee ballots counted until sometime between 3 and 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Across the state, it could take until Friday for winners to be called. Wolfe said the expected delays actually mean the system is working as it should to get things right, which doesn’t always mean fast.
Julietta Henry, the Milwaukee County Elections Director, said there are 19 municipalities in the county and eight must send their absentee ballots to a central count location. "The initial results will only consist of the ballots cast in person at the polling location on Election Day," she said.
Henry said results will not be considered complete until absentee ballot results are added in.
Wisconsin Election Commission officials will not meet until Dec. 1, 2020 to certify the election results.