City Calls for USPS Investigation Into Missing Ballots
Tubs of ballots are showing up across Wisconsin that didn't get mailed to voters.
Some of the potentially thousands of missing absentee ballots across Wisconsin have begun to appear. But answers have not.
The Village of Fox Point in Milwaukee County received 175 ballots back from the United States Postal Service without explanation on Election Day, too late for voters to do anything but vote in person. Three more crates were found Wednesday by a postal worker, filled with ballots for Appleton and Oshkosh voters, according to State Senator Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac).
But the City of Milwaukee still doesn’t know what happened to many of the ballots that its voters report never arrived. “We are going to formally request an investigation by the post office today as regards to what might have happened to those ballots,” said Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht during a media briefing Wednesday. The city believes the issue primarily affects ballots mailed on March 22nd and 23rd. “A majority of ballots issued over the March 22nd and March 23rd dates were actually received by voters.” He said he was following the issue in other municipalities as well.
Albrecht said he doesn’t know how many Milwaukee voters were affected, but the city still has approximately 40,000 outstanding absentee ballots. “We would normally see anything from an 85 to a 95 percent return rate,” said Albrecht. But he said the current rate is closer to 60 percent. The city issued just under 97,000 absentee ballots, and has records of mailing all the ballots.
One of those impacted by the missing ballot snafu was Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “If you requested a ballot and didn’t get one, you can vote. I know because that happened to me,” said Abele. He voted in person at South Division High School yesterday. In-person voting is now closed.
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) also didn’t receive his requested ballot. “I did not receive my ballot and was unable to vote & abide by the public health order,” said Hintz via Twitter on Wednesday morning.
Ballots were required to be postmarked by April 7th and received by April 13th. For more on the problem, see our coverage from Monday: “Where Are the Missing Ballots?”
The April 7th postmark requirement was explicitly added by the Supreme Court of the United States in a 5-4 ruling on Monday evening. It’s now created a new problem for election clerks.
“Not every ballot that has been returned to us has a postmark on it,” said Albrecht. He said differing systems used by election clerks when bulk mailing the ballots were causing the issue across the state. The ruling explicitly requires a postmark to ensure the ballot was mailed by election day, but Albrecht said ballots arriving Wednesday complied with the spirit of the rule even though they might lack the imprint. He said he is looking to the Wisconsin Elections Commission for guidance on how to count the ballots.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.
- Why Don Natzke Couldn’t Vote - Enjoyiana Nururdin - Aug 9th, 2020
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlights public health measures taken by the Milwaukee Health and Fire Departments, Department of Administration, Election Commission, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Aug 4th, 2020
- CDC Says Election Did Not Cause COVID-19 Spike - Erik Gunn - Aug 4th, 2020
- Pandemic Reduced Black Vote, Study Finds - Dee J. Hall - Jun 25th, 2020
- Did April Election Hike COVID-19 Cases? - Alana Watson - May 20th, 2020
- Elections Commission Notes ‘Lessons Learned’ - Henry Redman - May 19th, 2020
- Wisconsin Elections News: WEC Releases Analysis of Absentee Voting in April 7 Spring Election - Wisconsin Elections Commission - May 18th, 2020
- Election’s Impact on County’s COVID-19 Cases Unclear - Jeramey Jannene - May 6th, 2020
- Why State’s Voting By Mail Was Chaotic - Daniel C. Vock - May 4th, 2020
- At Least 40 COVID-19 Cases Tied to Election in Milwaukee - Graham Kilmer - Apr 24th, 2020
Read more about 2020 Spring Primary here