Important Election Update                                                    April 06, 2020

Friends and Neighbors, 

I write tonight with important information about tomorrow’s election. As many of you may have heard, today Governor Tony Evers issued Executive Order #74, in an attempt to suspend all in-person voting for the April 7th election and to postpone the election to a later date. This action came after many other attempts to encourage the GOP-controlled Legislature to use their authority to act. However, after a swift challenge by the Wisconsin GOP legislative leadership, and a 4-2 vote by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Court ruled the Order ineffective and that tomorrow’s election will continue in-person. 

Also late today, the United States Supreme Court overturned a lower federal court decision to extend absentee voting in Wisconsin until April 13th. Now, all ballots must be returned by tomorrow, April 7th, or be postmarked by tomorrow’s date and received by April 13th. 

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is a fundamental right that each and every citizen has access to the polls on Election Day. Further, during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is vital that we do everything we can to stay at home, social distance, and flatten the curve, thus saving the lives of many of our fellow community members. With both of these truths in mind, it is very hard to come to terms with how tomorrow’s election continues to take place in its current form.

I, like many of you, am extremely disappointed and fearful of this outcome. Holding an in-person election puts ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, and our community, at risk. At the same time, many citizens understandably feel called to their duty to vote and to maintain the integrity of our democracy during these unprecedented times. 

While I am truly concerned for our state and our democracy to see tomorrow’s election take place, I do want to pass along the following information so that those who do go out to vote have the best practices and all the resources necessary to stay safe and healthy. Additionally, clarification on absentee voting/mail-in voting can be found. Please read below for more information. 

In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District

What Do These Court Decisions Mean?

With important rulings taking place today by both the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court regarding today’s election, it is hard to know exactly what is taking place. Below is a quick overview:

  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Governor Evers cannot postpone the election under Emergency Order #74. As such, due to no action by the GOP-controlled Legislature, the election continues to be held in-person today. 
  • The United States Supreme Court ruled that “in order to be counted in this election a voter’s absentee ballot must be either: 1) postmarked by election day April 7, 2020 and received by April 13, 2020 at 4:00 p.m., or 2) hand-delivered as provided under state law by April 7, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.”

City of Madison In-Person Voting Information

Thanks to our dedicated election workers and city clerks, the City of Madison is doing everything they can to ensure that tomorrow’s election is as safe as possible for those voting in-person. They are taking every measure they can to stop the spread of COVID-19 at the polls, and to keep our community safe.

Please read below for the City’s 12 Things for Voters to Know on Election Day:

1. Many polling places have changed for this election. To verify your polling location, visit www.cityofmadison.com/WhereDoIVote.

2. You may use your own black or blue ballpoint pen. At the public test of election equipment, we made sure the tabulator accurately tallied ballots marked with blue or black ballpoint ink. We cannot guarantee that other colors of ink will be counted. Sharpies might bleed through the ballot and affect contests on the other side of the ballot. Gel pens do not dry fast enough, and gel gums up inside of the tabulator, causing ballot jams. If you have a pen that writes really smoothly, it is likely a gel pen, and it does not work well with our election equipment.

3. Curbside voting is available As always, voters unable to enter the polling place due to disability or illness may vote from the curb. We anticipate that curbside voting will be utilized by voters who have underlying health conditions, are at high risk for COVID-19, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.   When you pull up to the curb of the polling place, you will see a sign posted with a number to call in order to reach the poll workers inside. Two poll workers, wearing protective face shields, will bring you a ballot that you may mark inside your vehicle. If you have your own ballpoint pen, wave the pen at the poll workers so they know you do not need a pen. Hold your Voter ID up to your window for the poll workers to check. Crack your window open just enough to receive your ballot from the poll workers. Mark your ballot, fold it, and pass it back to the poll workers through your cracked car window. The poll workers will feed your ballot into the tabulator to be counted. Two poll workers are involved in this process for accountability purposes.

4. Hand sanitizer will be at the poll book table and polling place exit. Voters will be asked to sanitize their hands at the poll book table before signing the poll book. This will allow time for the voter’s hands to dry before they receive their ballot. Hand sanitizer will also be available for voters to use as they exit the polling place.

5. Keep your ballot dry! Rain is in the forecast for Tuesday. When ballots get wet, they shred in the tabulator and can take down the tabulator for the entire day. If your ballot gets wet, whether with rain or sanitizer, ask a poll worker for a replacement ballot.

6. Maintain social distancing. In the interest of public safety, we ask that all voters and poll workers practice social distancing to the greatest extent possible. If you are in line, allow six feet of space between you and the next voter. You will be interacting with poll workers through a Plexiglass screen. When selecting a voting booth to use, allow six feet of space between you and other voters. Poll workers will be disinfecting pens and voting booths after each use.

7. Voters will not need to remove their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)Poll workers have been instructed to verify the identity of a voter wearing a facemask by comparing the eyes in the voter’s ID to the eyes of the voter before them. Poll workers should not ask voters to remove their facemasks.

8. Voters who have not returned an absentee ballot may vote at the polls. Voters who received an absentee ballot but have not sent that ballot back to the Clerk’s Office have the option of voting at the polls on Election Day instead. Voters who have returned their absentee ballot to be counted may not vote at the polls on Election Day.

9. Election results will not be available on election night. We are currently under a federal court order to not run the election results on election night. Absentee ballots that are postmarked no later than April 7 and delivered via U.S. mail to the Clerk’s Office by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13, will be counted by the Board of Canvassers on April 13, and the election results will be released once those ballots are counted.

10. Voters may use three library book drops to return their absentee ballots until noon on Election Day. Pinney Library, Sequoya Library, and Central Library have opened their book drops for voters returning their absentee ballots (sealed in the absentee certificate envelope with the voter’s signature, witness signature, and witness address). The Clerk’s Office retrieves these ballots from the library daily. To make sure ballots are not damaged, please do not return library materials to these book drops.

11. Need a witness? Call the Dane County Voter ID Coalition hotline at 608-285-2141. The waiver of the absentee witness signature for voters who cannot get a witness is up in the air right now, pending a final decision of the 7th Circuit. Try to get a witness if at all possible. If not possible, write a statement to that effect on the absentee envelope. 

12. Do not hesitate to contact the Clerk’s Office. If you have a question or encounter a problem at your polling place, please let us know right away by calling (608) 266-4601.

 Frequently Asked Questions

My polling place moved, where can I find my polling place?

You can look up your polling place on MyVote.wi.gov 

I still have my absentee ballot, can I still turn it in?

Yes! If you have your ballot and have not turned it in, you have two options. You can either get your ballot postmarked tomorrow (you may want to specifically ask your post office to hand cancel it to make sure it gets postmarked) OR drop the ballot off at your polling place, clerk’s office, or drop box designated by your clerk no later than 8pm (check with your clerk in case drop off sites close earlier).

I turned in my ballot already but it hasn’t gotten to my clerk yet, will it count?

Yes! All absentee ballots must be postmarked before 8pm on April 7th and received by April 13th at 4pm. If you already sent it in, your ballot will count if it arrives by April 13th

If I sent my ballot in already but my clerk doesn’t have it yet, can I go vote at the poll?

No. If you go to vote when you have already been issued an absentee ballot, one of the things the poll workers will ask is whether you have returned your ballot yet. If you have already put the ballot in the mail, it is considered returned and you will not be allowed to vote again.

If I did not request an absentee ballot, what are my options?

If you did not request an absentee ballot, you can go to the polls and vote in-person tomorrow between 7am and 8pm.

If I requested my ballot but it has not arrived yet, am I able to get a ballot emailed to me?

No. The Wisconsin Elections Commission clarified that if you requested a ballot, but it is still on its way to you, you are not able to receive a replacement ballot via email. If you want to vote, you must go in-person to the polls or check tomorrow’s mail and return that ballot before 8pm.

 I turned in a ballot without a witness signature under Judge Conley’s ruling. Does my ballot still count?

No, your absentee ballot will not count and state law does not allow another ballot to be issued on Election Day. This is really unfair, but the Wisconsin Elections Commission clarified tonight that there is no remedy for voters who followed Judge Conley’s order on witnesses while it was in force.


Contacting My Office

Team Sargent is here to help you! Please reach out to us with general inquiries, as well as any thoughts, questions, or concerns regarding legislative matters, at 608-266-0960 or via email at rep.sargent@legis.wi.gov

facebook.png Like Me twitter.png Follow Me

 Get email notifications from the Legislature