On October 12, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued the following announcement on behalf of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The following message from the Wisconsin Elections Commission is for administrators and staff at nursing homes and other care facilities.
Due to safety concerns, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) determined that Special Voting Deputies (SVDs) will not be dispatched to care facilities to administer voting for the November 3, 2020, General Election. Residents of care facilities normally served by SVDs will instead be mailed absentee ballots. In support of these efforts the WEC has updated the reference materials that explain the voting options and procedures for residents in nursing homes and care facilities. These resources are available on the WEC website.
Residents who receive ballots will have to vote their ballot, have a witness provide required information on the return envelope, and return their ballot by mail in order to participate. There may be residents who need to register to vote or update their voter registration to reflect their current name or address. In addition, residents without an active absentee ballot request on file with their municipal clerk will have to submit one before a ballot will be mailed to them.
The deadlines for both voter registration and requesting an absentee ballot prior to the November 3, 2020, General Election are as follows:
- Voter registration deadline (online or by mail): Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Please note this deadline was previously extended one week to October 21 due to a recent court decision, but the extension is currently on hold while the case is under appeal. Voters in your facilities who need to register should do so ASAP. Voter registration after this deadline must take place in-person, either in the municipal clerk’s office or at the polling place on election day.
- Absentee request deadline: The deadline to make a request for the November 3, 2020, General Election is Thursday October 29, 2020, for regular voters and Friday October 30, 2020, for voters who self-certify they are “indefinitely confined” due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability.
- Absentee return deadline: State law requires that all ballots must be returned by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. Ballots can be returned by mail or delivered in-person to the clerk’s office or other secure ballot drop for an individual voter’s municipality. You can find more information about local ballot return options on the MyVote Wisconsin website. Please note the ballot return deadline was previously extended until November 9, 2020, due to a recent court decision, but the extension is currently on hold while the case is under appeal.
Due to these changes, residents may need assistance to be able to vote. As a care facility administrator or staff member, you are able to:
- Assist residents in filling out their ballots or certificate envelopes.
- Assist residents in completing voter registration forms and absentee requests.
- Sign the special certificate envelope (EL-122sp) if necessary
- Witness ballots.
There are resources on the WEC website on the following topics: registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot, witnessing, and assisting your residents.
The WEC knows that this may be difficult for many care facilities due to competing priorities and staffing, so please reach out to the WEC with questions or concerns. Call 608-266-8005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support in making voting as accessible as possible for your residents.