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Wisconsin to Mail Absentee Ballot Applications to 2.7M Voters

The Hill reports, the Wisconsin Elections Commission agreed to mail out 2.7 million absentee ballot applications to most voters in the state this fall ahead of November’s presidential election.

The vote came just a week after the six-person panel split 3-3 along partisan lines on whether to mail the forms to nearly all registered voters, even if they hadn’t requested one. The bipartisan commission on Wednesday unanimously passed the plan.

The plan could face obstacles next month if Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on the wording of the mailing.  Democrats on the commission want staff to draft the letter to avoid partisan gridlock.

“We’re going to wind up in a situation where we’re going to be parsing individual words on a letter and [having] 3-3 votes on whether we’re going to say ‘shall’ or ‘can,’ or ‘could’ or ‘would’ or ‘should.’ And it does none of us any good,” Democratic Commissioner Ann Jacobs told the Journal Sentinel. 

Republican Commissioner Bob Spindell accused Democrats on the commission of being afraid to tell recipients of other ways to vote than by absentee.

“The Republicans are better at voting on election day than are the Democrats and the Democrats are better at using mail absentee votes than the Republicans are,” he contended. “Are you afraid to put in this letter that there are a couple of other ways of voting in this thing? I don’t see any problem whatsoever on this letter as long as those topics are covered appropriately.”

According to the Journal, the mailing is expected to cost about $2.25 million and would be funded using part of a $7.3 million grant that Congress gave Wisconsin to deal with higher election costs during the pandemic.

Mail voting surged to nearly 1 million in the April election for state Supreme Court as people tried to stay at home as much as possible during the coronavirus outbreak. Mail voting this fall is expected to surpass the record set in April, according to the Journal.

The commission’s vote comes after President Trump on Tuesday warned in a tweet that increased mail voting would lead to ballots being stolen and forged, prompting Twitter to append a “get the facts” link to his tweet that said his claims were unsubstantiated. That label led Trump to accuse Twitter of interfering in the presidential election.

According to The Hill, polling has shown former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, slightly ahead of Trump in the battleground state, which Trump won by a narrow margin in 2016.