Coronavirus forces changes to absentee voting in Wisconsin nursing homes


ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) Elections in the coming months will operate a bit differently for residents in nursing homes, a direct result of concerns over the coronavirus.

With concern nationwide over the coronavirus pandemic Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday declared a public health emergency.

“I want to assure everyone that those affected are receiving the best possible care and that all steps are being taken to stop the spread of this virus,” said Gov. Evers.

And now the Wisconsin Elections Commission has taken a step to help those most at risk.

“Definitely about protecting the health of our most vulnerable populations in nursing homes and other care facilities,” said Reid Magney from the commission.

For now the commission is ending its practice of allowing municipalities to send special voting deputies into nursing homes to assist residents with absentee ballot voting. The change in procedures now means the 140 people living here at Woodside Nursing Home in Ashwaubenon will be mailed an absentee ballot.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Ashwaubenon Village Clerk Pat Moynihan.

Moynihan says his teams were planning to visit the nursing home next Monday, to help residents complete absentee ballots. But instead, they’ve switched gears to quickly comply with the order.

“We’re in the works of it right now, putting together the absentee ballots to mail to each individual who is registered to vote,” said Moynihan. “They have to be mailed by Tuesday, end of business.”

“The nursing homes don’t have to worry about people coming, the clerks don’t have to worry about finding voting deputies to go to the nursing homes. It’s really for the safety of everyone,” Magney said.

A policy that will protect the elderly from being exposed to the coronavirus, while still allowing them to cast their vote.

“It’s relatively small compared to the overall population but it’s still very important for those people to be able to exercise their right to vote,” Magney said.

The commission also gave clerks permission to relocate polling places located within a nursing home. Magney urges everyone to consider absentee voting. You can learn more about it at Myvote-dot-wi-gov.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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