(The Center Square) – Wisconsin's 1,850 local election managers will share $4 million to mail almost every voter in the state an absentee ballot application this fall.
Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe made the announcement Friday.
“We are using the lessons we learned from the spring election in April and the federal grant funds to ensure we are prepared for November," Wolfe said.
The money is coming from Wisconsin's share of the federal coronavirus stimulus package.
The WEC unanimously voted this week to send nearly three million voters absentee ballot applications. The WEC will not be mailing actual ballots, however.
Mailing ballots "would require the legislature to pass and amend existing law, and the Wisconsin Elections Commission does not have the authority to make these changes," the WEC said in its announcement.
Under the proposal, almost every voter in the state would get an absentee ballot application. Those voters would then need to request a ballot from their local clerk. Local clerks would then check to see if that voter is registered, check their voter ID in most cases, and mail out the ballot.
Wolfe said the WEC plans to use the U.S. Post Office's Intelligent Mail Barcodes to track ballot envelopes, but not the ballots themselves.
Not everyone is happy with the proposal or the price tag.
Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, said there are serious questions about blindly mailing nearly three million ballot applications across the state. And there are even more questions about spending $4 million to do it.
“If Wisconsin is going to spend millions more tax dollars on the election, which is what the Elections Commission voted to do, it should be used to ensure election integrity and voter safety at the polls," Neylon said. "This move by the Elections Commission will reverse the steps we have taken to bolster election integrity, at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Th Election Commission hopes to have the final version for its absentee ballot application letter by June 10. The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the November election in Wisconsin is Oct. 29.