Capitol Update
by Senator Howard Marklein
April 3, 2020


The Election and COVID-19

The April 7, 2020 election will be occurring as scheduled. This is our reality. We can choose to complain or problem solve.  I am problem-solving.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), Governor Tony Evers and the state legislature determined, last week, that the April 7, 2020 election needed to continue as planned because there are many elected positions that become vacant in mid-April, as well as other elections that are contingent on this election. There are a lot of dominoes waiting to fall from this election.
On April 2, 2020, a federal judge extended two important deadlines.  Absentee ballots may be requested until 5 p.m. on April 3, 2020. The deadline to mail or deliver your ballot to your clerk is Monday, April 13, 2020 – six full days after the election – as of the writing of this column. Please turn your ballot in by Election Day if you are able, as court rulings are subject to appeal.
Regardless of court actions, my colleagues and I launched an aggressive campaign to encourage all voters to request an absentee ballot, rather than visiting the polls in person.  As of 7:30 a.m. on April 3, 2020, 1,197,472 absentee ballots were requested statewide!  Approximately 561,181 have already been returned to clerks across Wisconsin. 
If we compare the number of requests to total votes cast in 2012, which is the last time we only had one contested race for President on the ballot, there were 1,088,102 votes cast.  We have already passed this total!
As a result, I strongly believe that in-person turn-out on Election Day will be extremely low and limited across the state. There will always be voters who want to vote in person, and this is their choice. But overall, I believe that the vast majority of voters will be casting their votes via Absentee Ballot.
I understand the fear and frustration of clerks and poll workers who are anxious about Election Day. Clerks are working hard to minimize person-to-person contact and maximizing sanitation and cleaning processes throughout the day. They are replacing higher-risk volunteers with lower-risk volunteers who are comfortable working on Election Day. In fact, I have been working on behalf of six municipalities, of the 184 I represent, to help them to recruit volunteers.  We have successfully filled-in-the-gaps in the Village of Woodman, the Village of Patch Grove, the Town of Spring Green, the City of Monroe and the Village of Blanchardville. 
The Town of Platteville and the City of Platteville still need your help.  If you live in Grant County and are willing to help, please contact Jim Lory at the Town of Platteville – plattown@centurytel.net or Candace Klass at the City of Platteville – 608-348-1823 or cityclerk@platteville.org.
My wife Peggy and I will be helping in the Town of Spring Green. My Chief of Staff, Katy Prange, will be working in the City of Reedsburg all day. We are putting our money where our mouths are and stepping up to help. How about you?  If you are at lower-risk, consider helping. If you already volunteer, but are at higher-risk, don’t do it! Your clerk will find a way to manage without you. Do not put your health at risk. We will manage the very low turn-out numbers and absentee ballots to get through this election. We will problem-solve.
Recently, Governor Evers called on the legislature to mail an Absentee Ballot to every registered voter. At the time of his announcement, 767,196 absentee ballots had already been requested in Wisconsin with 199,274 already sent back to clerks by voters. Asking our overloaded municipal clerks to send ballots to every voter, pull out people who have already received one and all within a week was unreasonable and nearly impossible. Our clerks are doing a terrific job and this would have placed an unreasonable, expensive, time-consuming burden on them.
Furthermore, the numbers I reported earlier tell us that we have received many more votes via Absentee Ballot than we even expected for the election.  Wisconsinites have really stepped up.
Again, this election is going to happen. There are too many variables depending on the election occurring as planned. We can choose to complain or we can choose to problem-solve. I choose to problem-solve.  If you need help requesting an absentee ballot today, obtaining a photo of your ID, finding a witness for your ballot or otherwise participating in the election, please contact me. I will help you.
In addition, I have offered as much support as I can to our clerks.  I am working at a poll on Election Day. I have recruited a dozen volunteers for polls all over the 17th District. I have encouraged others to vote absentee and I voted absentee. I am choosing to pull through this with the hard-working leaders of our state who are protecting your vote and keep our democracy advancing forward.
We are going to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up and volunteered to fill in the gaps in our communities. Thank you to those who have stayed “Safer At Home.”  Thank you to the parents who are working hard to keep their children occupied and engaged in school work. Thank you to the healthcare workforce who are on the front lines. We will get through this together. Thank you for being strong and positive.
As always, please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance.  My team is working remotely but continues to be available to serve you. Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703. Leave a message and a member of my team will follow-up with you.