“Effort to allow for early processing of Wisconsin absentee ballots stalls out”


Local clerks may still have to wait until Election Day to begin processing absentee ballots in Wisconsin, despite a bipartisan effort to allow for early canvassing.

The state Assembly passed legislation in November that would allow election workers to begin processing absentee ballots the day before an election.

But in an interview that aired Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, told WISN-TV that the bill is likely dead, saying he doubts the legislation will make it out of a Senate committee….

The Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection held a public hearing on the bill in December. Claire Woodall, executive director of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission, spoke in support of the bill, saying voting by mail continues at nearly 400 percent of the level the city saw prior the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not just an issue that’s important for the city of Milwaukee, but it affects many communities throughout the state of Wisconsin,” Woodall said at the hearing. “Creating a process that allows us to report our results on election night will just continue to strengthen the transparency and trust in our democratic process.”

Woodall said Milwaukee processed 170,000 absentee ballots in 2020 and 61,000 absentee ballots in 2022.

Backers of the legislation could still try to force a vote on the bill before lawmakers adjourn in March, but LeMahieu’s comments suggest such an effort would face steep odds in the Senate.

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