In-person absentee voting starts in Madison, clerk offers multiple ways to cast ballot

MADISON, Wis. — In-person absentee voting for the Aug. 11 partisan primary started Tuesday in Madison.

Voters are marking their ballots for who they think should continue on to November.

There are a few contested races for the state legislative seats in and around Madison, including state Senate District 26 – previously Democratic Sen. Fred Risser’s seat – and Assembly District 76 – previously Democratic Rep. Chris Taylor’s seat, which each have seven Democrats competing.

The results of the primary will matter, and Jim Verbick, the deputy city clerk in Madison, said the office feels much better prepared for this race than the last one, in April.

“Between when the pandemic was declared and the election occurred was a very short amount of time,” Verbick said. “And so there wasn’t a lot of time for a lot of preparation or adaptation, but having gone through that I feel like we’ve learned a lot, the state learned a lot and the voters learned a lot.”

The city is offering multiple ways to vote safely including early in-person voting, drive-up voting and voting by mail by requesting an absentee ballot.

Voters can also go in person on Aug. 11, where poll workers will have personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies, but voters are only encouraged to wear masks.

“We are not going to not allow someone to vote just because they don’t have a mask,” Verbick said. “We ask that they hurry up and at least try to maintain social distancing and stay six feet apart from other people, but yeah we’re not going to kick someone out or not let them vote because they don’t have a mask.”

The clerk’s office has set up ballot drop-off sites at a number of local libraries. This week those are at Pinney, Alicia Ashman and Sequoya libraries from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., though it will be expanded to other sites next week. The sites will also have someone there who can provide a witness signature.

With this being a partisan primary, voters are only allowed to vote for one party on the ballot. There is a place for voters to choose Republican, Democrat or Constitution at the top. Verbick said so long as you mark your preference there, the machine should be able to count your ballot accurately.

“We have received some calls from voters who say, I accidentally voted in both,” he said, “and our advice to them is mark the preference and the machine will count it just fine.”