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Posted on: September 17, 2020

Central Count Approved for Canvassing Absentee Ballots

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The City Council approved the creation of a Municipal Board of Absentee Canvassers at their September 8, 2020 Council meeting. The purpose of adding this chapter to the Ashland City Ordinances is to enable the Clerk’s office to essentially create a "central count" to process absentee ballots for the upcoming General Election in November.

To date, the Clerk’s office has received nearly 1800 requests for absentee ballots for the November General Election. This does not take into account the number of requests that were sent directly to the State Elections Commission. There are just over 4500 registered voters in the City of Ashland. The count of absentee ballots versus in-person voters for the past three elections (April, May and August) have equalled more than 75% of the total votes.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission have initiated a mailed absentee ballot drive by sending absentee ballot request information via postcard to all of the registered voters in the State, encouraging them to request their mailed absentee ballot early for the November Election. The Clerk’s office has also generated public information to recognize the importance of requesting a mailed absentee ballot early, as well as developing more ballot return options beyond the US Postal Service such as a new secured drop box at City Hall.

In-person absentee voting will begin on October 20, 2020 at City Hall, allowing only a two-week window per recent legislature for those who wish to vote in-person prior to November 3, 2020. The Clerk’s office will be extending their normal hours during those two weeks, including designated hours on Saturday, October 24, 2020. They are also anticipating a surge of new voters via Northland College as classes will be in session during that time. The Clerk’s office has been in touch with student advisors at the college to inform and educate students how to properly register prior to voting.

It is anticipated that through these avenues, the number of absentee ballots will likely near the same percentage of total ballots cast as in recent elections. In order to lessen distractions and potential heavy traffic during a very busy and long process for poll workers, as well as lessen the chance of potential COVID-19 exposure, the Clerk’s office is asking to implement a Municipal Board of Absentee Canvassers for the November General Election. This Board will be composed of two qualified electors of the City of Ashland plus the City Clerk or other qualified personnel appointed by the Clerk, for a two year term. The Board will oversee the processing of returned absentee ballots by a group of election inspectors or poll workers on Election Day, pursuant to the provisions of WI State Statutes 7.52 and 7.53. Under this Chapter, all absentee ballots will be processed at City Hall and all activities will be treated as an open, public meeting and accessible to any potential election observer throughout the process until completed.

Members of the Municipal Board of Absentee Canvass will be appointed by the Mayor and to be approved by Council. As the term of a Board member begins on odd-numbered years, these terms will expire on January 1, 2021, and be appointed or re-appointed every two years.  

Anyone who wishes to attend the Central Count during the November 3, 2020 Election Day, please contact the Clerk’s office at 715-682-7071. 

Chapter 5 Municipal Board of Canvassers

Procedures for Canvassing Absentee Ballots  

Additional Election Information..
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