A record number of Wisconsinites voted by absentee ballot this election. (Shutterstock image)
A record number of Wisconsinites voted by absentee ballot this election. (Shutterstock image)

Roughly 2.7 million ballot request packets will be sent to voters by Sept. 1. 

Despite some concerns Republican members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission would stall on an attempt to meet a Friday deadline, commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday on the wording of absentee ballot request forms to be sent to roughly 2.7 million registered voters. 

The six-member commission had twice before failed to agree on the wording of a letter to be included in an absentee ballot request form packet. As Democratic commission Chairwoman Ann Jacobs pointed out to Republican commissioner Robert Spindell, every issue he had with the wording last week was taken into account and changed by Wisconsin Elections Commission staff.

This included a request to add a question relating to citizenship to the form, despite the fact absentee ballot requests are made by people who are already registered voters, which requires proof of U.S. citizenship. 

Spindell maintained this was needed to prevent voter fraud. But the concern of widespread voter fraud through absentee voting, peddled by President Donald Trump, is completely baseless

Many states, such as Michigan and Georgia, have already taken action to expand absentee voting for later this year, in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations

The move toward voting by absentee ballot rather than in-person is meant to encourage voters to stay home and vote as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. The ballots will be used for the Nov. 3 election. 

The commission also voted that the application request packets would not be forwarded to residents who move between now and Sept. 1. The postal service automatically forwards first-class mail for up to a year, unless specifically told not to do so. 

Spindell, along with Republican commissioner Dean Knudson, said this also could lead to applications being sent to voters who had moved to Illinois, who would then vote illegally in the Wisconsin election. 

Despite Jacobs arguing voter fraud is rare and this action is already classified as a felony, the commission voted to instruct WEC staff to inform the mailing service the packets should not be forwarded to an individual’s new address. 

Meagan Wolfe, the commission’s executive director,  said the voter packets will be stored in three containers the size of semi trailers until they can begin to be mailed out by Sept. 1. The commissioners had previously expressed they preferred the packets to be mailed out consecutively rather than mailing them out as they were printed, Wolfe said.