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How absentee ballots are counted on Election Day in Milwaukee

With Election Day kicking off, many absentee ballots will be counted throughout the day across the state.
Posted at 7:58 AM, Nov 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-09 13:36:16-05

MILWAUKEE — With Election Day kicking off, many absentee ballots will be counted throughout the day across the state.

Absentee ballots will be processed at the Wisconsin Center and counted throughout the day here in Milwaukee. Election workers will begin that process at 7 a.m., this morning and will work throughout the day until they’re all counted.

The big questions of the day may be, “How are absentee ballots actually counted on election day in Wisconsin and how does this process work?”

Election officials verify the ballot meets all requirements including a voter signature, witness signature and address. The election official will then prepare the ballot to be counted and once that happens the voters are marked with a voter number on their corresponding poll book.

This process at Central Count today is something that could take a while.

Tens of thousands of ballots are being counted, which is why trust in the counting process is so important.

Just recently, TMJ4 spoke with a bilingual chief election inspector, Molly Kuether-Steele, who talked about the absentee ballot process.

“The thing that I've noticed the most-which we all have,” said Kuether-Steele, “is the misinformation around elections and for me, it's important that people-voters, know what their rights and responsibilities are, also what the truth is and that when you're casting your ballot it's not being hacked by russians, nothing goes through the internet.

In Milwaukee, it's a very secure process and I think people need to trust the process and trust the election commission.”

Historically, the counting of absentee ballots has taken several hours beyond polls closing. It's one part of the municipal clerk's process in certifying the election.

It's common to hear candidates declare victory on election night, but winners are not official until the results are certified – which by Wisconsin state law – happens on December first.

Election day is expected to turn into a late night, and one reason why is because state law does not allow clerks to start counting absentee ballots until 7 a.m.

"It's not just opening a bunch of envelopes and counting the ballots,” said Michelle Hawley, Director of Milwaukee County Elections Commission. “There's a very meticulous process that goes into ensuring that the absentee ballot is counted correctly um! And that it's eligible to be counted."

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