Milwaukee might be just one of the Wisconsin communities that has to throw out bunches of absentee ballots done by mail. A new state law requires the witnesses to include their full address, but some have not. Several parties will ask the state election commission later this week to relax the rule. Governor Walker signed the bill into law this past spring. It requires the person who witnesses someone voting absentee, to provide their address, along with their signature. Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas says the agency must enforce the law. “Under the previous statute, individuals who cast an absentee ballot by mail were required to have a witness sign the envelope and list their address as well but, there was never a consequence if the witnesses address was not included on the envelope. Municipal clerks were always instructed to still have those ballots counted, even if the witness address was missing or was not complete,” he says. But now, Haas says, elections officials are supposed to toss ballots that don’t contain the witness’s full address.
Milwaukee Election Commissioner Neil Albrecht says, so far, voters have mailed back about 400 absentee ballots that contain only partial addresses. For instance, the witness filled in the street address, but not the municipality.
“We understand why this error occurred, a lot of times a person who’s signing as a witness resides in the same household as the actual voter. So, they probably assume that because that municipality appears in several other locations on that certificate envelope, they feel it’s not necessary to record it an additional time,” he says.