LITTLE CHUTE, Wis. (WFRV) – There are new rules for returning absentee ballots that voters should be aware of ahead of the Aug. 9 primary election.
On July 8, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballot drop boxes are illegal in the state of Wisconsin. They also ruled that people can’t return another person’s absentee ballot.
Voters must return their own ballots to the clerk’s office or mail them in.
In Little Chute, officials send out instructions with absentee ballots to make sure people are filling them out correctly.
Three weeks before the August primary, it’s crunch time for local clerks. On Monday morning, Little Chute clerks processed about 12 requests for absentee ballots and clerk Laurie Decker told Local 5 News they have already gotten 442 absentee ballot requests for this election.
She said this is actually less absentee ballots than in previous elections now that COVID-19 is less of a fear for most than it was in 2020 or 2021.
“The turnout for in-person voting (in the primary) I think is going to be very large and I think that we’re going to have a very large crowd on election day as well,” said Decker.
Little Chute previously had a slot behind a locked door at village hall for people to return absentee ballots. To make sure that nobody accidentally uses the drop box for this election cycle, they have taped over the entire door.
Opponents of the ban on absentee ballot drop boxes fear that this will make it harder for people to vote and could lead to less voter turnout.
One of those people is Little Chute voter Bob Paessler who said he will have to vote by mail now, something that he was reluctant to do.
“It made me very upset, I can deliver my own (absentee ballot), but I can’t delivery my wife’s and she has trouble walking,” said Paesller.
Decker said she disagrees.
“I don’t think so (that no absentee ballot boxes will reduce voter turnout) there’s a lot of ways to get your vote cast and we are here to accommodate people in any way that we can,” said Decker.
She said if people drive to village hall but can’t walk inside, clerks are able to come out to the parking lot and take a voter’s ballot.
The last day to request an absentee ballot is Aug. 4, although clerks advise voters to get their requests in as early as possible. Absentee ballots can be returned all the way to election day (Aug. 9) at 8 p.m.
Wisconsin also designates an early voting period from July 26 until Aug. 5. Check your local municipality for specific times.
An Associated Press survey of top election officials around the country found that the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in the 2020 election didn’t create any problems large enough to impact the results of the election.