MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Election Commission gives a behind-the-scenes look at where the absentee ballots are sent out and then stored. This after thousands of people in the city requested absentee ballots and as questions swirl about the safety of voting by mail come at the national level.
“We have workers preparing absentee ballots to be mailed out today,” said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.
She is talking from a warehouse on South Kinnickinnic Avenue, which is basically a ballot headquarters for Milwaukee. In the elections before COVID-19, the warehouse was where all the ballots were counted. For social distancing reasons, that function will be moved elsewhere. Now the warehouse and the election workers prep and house every ballot for the city.
“It’s where all of our blank ballots are stored, as well as where we secure all voted ballots as they come back each day,” said Woodall-Vogg.
“We have delivered more than 110,00 thousand absentee ballots to Milwaukeans and have already received 40,000 complete ballots that have been returned. Again, this is way off the charts in what we have seen in previous elections,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
According to Wisconsin’s election law, no ballots can be counted until Election Day. So, all the ballots are being held in a locked room in the warehouse under 24-hour monitoring. The election commission expects at the earliest they might be able to get them all counted by 3 a.m. the day after the election.
“I think a lot of voters expect we can have a free-for-all and open the ballots and feed them through a machine. But we account for every single ballot, for every single voter,” said Woodall-Vogg.
The Milwaukee Election Commission is recommending if you plan to mail your ballot back, do so by October 26th. Otherwise, there are drop boxes for ballots to use around the city.