Thursday marks absentee deadlines for August primary

MADISON, Wis. — Thursday marks the last day for voters to request an absentee ballot by mail and is one of a series of upcoming deadlines voters face before the polls close Aug. 9.

All requests must be into the clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Aug. 4, which in most cases will also be the deadline for voters to “spoil” their existing ballot if they want to change their vote.

“Obviously, that’s really close to election day,” said Maggie McClain, a Wisconsin certified municipal clerk who works in the Madison clerk’s office.

She said there are fewer, but still some, options after the Thursday deadline.

“We do encourage folks that if they’re wanting to vote absentee before election day, they can make that request [by Aug. 4], but there is also the option to vote absentee in person at any one of our in-person absentee voting locations during their voting hours,” McClain said.

Voters can also spoil their ballots at in-person absentee voting locations as well, but that must be done before Sunday, after which no early voting can take place.

Early voting locations may differ depending on the municipality, and voters should check with their municipal clerk if they have any questions. Madison voters can find a list of locations and hours at the city clerk’s website.

Voters are free to vote for either party in Wisconsin’s open primary

Next week’s election is also an example of Wisconsin’s open primary system — which means that voters can vote in either party’s primary without having to register for a specific party.

McClain recommended voters choose the primary in which they want to vote at the top of the ballot, then skip ahead to the section corresponding to that party. Voters are not allowed to vote in both primaries, however, so a voter who makes a selection in the Republican gubernatorial primary cannot also vote in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

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Exactly which primary a voter casts their ballot in, though, will remain secret.

“It’s just [recorded] that you voted, we don’t know how you voted — we just know that you did,” McClain said.

She added that for absentee voters, officials will open five ballots at a time so that those counting the ballots do not know for who, or even in which primary, voted for.