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Wisconsin Election Commission takes action on COVID-19 issues ahead of spring election

MADISON, WI (WSAU) -- The state elections commission has made two changes to procedures for next month’s spring general election and Presidential Primary election on April 7th.

Elections Commission Public Information Officer Reid Magney says the first calls for all residents in nursing homes or long-term care facilities to receive their ballots via mail instead of directly from their local Clerk’s office.

“Normally starting this coming Monday Clerks would be sending out special voting deputies to meet with residents in common areas or even to go door-to-door to give them absentee ballots or to help them vote,” said Magney. “But, because of restrictions on visits to nursing homes, that’s not possible anymore.”

The second will allow municipal clerks to make necessary changes to polling place locations that are in or near those facilities, in the interest of keeping them free of outside germs.

“Normally, a clerk has to establish those places at least 30 days before an election. We are well past that now for April 7th. So the Commission’s action will allow clerks to find alternative locations and we will do our best to help the clerks publicize that.”

Those same measures will be in place for the May 12th special election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District seat.

Magney adds that he’s unsure how many polling places statewide will be impacted by the move.

The Commission is also encouraging anyone who may have concerns about the COVID-19 virus to request an absentee ballot by mail as soon as possible. That can be done entirely from home using www.myvote.wi.gov by filling out the application and uploading a picture of your photo ID.

Additionally, Magney says the Elections Commission has plans to conduct a series of webinars with municipal Clerks to discuss what measures will be taken to keep polling places clear of the virus, given their public nature. Those will begin next Monday.

It’s unclear if the same changes will be in place for the November election, but Magney says his office plans to stay in close contact with both state and federal officials through the duration of the outbreak. “We know election law, but we don’t know health and science. We will be looking to professionals at the CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services to give us guidance as to how long we can expect this to last.”

Courtney Terlecki

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