Deadline is 5 p.m. today to request absentee ballot be mailed to you

Amber Brockman, News Editor

The deadline for registered voters to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you is at 5 p.m. today, April 2, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Due to precautionary measures recommended by health officials, the City of Oshkosh is encouraging residents to vote by mail, with a goal of having 100% absentee voting for the April 7 election.

Statewide, the WEC reported that as of Wednesday morning, 1,053,556 absentee applications had been received by Wisconsin municipal clerks, with 1,028,734 sent and 387,833 returned. Those numbers do not include absentee ballot requests that have not yet been entered into the state system by clerks, such as emailed requests, mailed requests, or requests by voters that require the clerk to approve the photo ID, meaning the number of requests may be much higher, the WEC noted.

“We want people to vote, but we also want them to stay safe from the COVID-19 virus,” Winnebago County Clerk Sue Ertmer said. “Voting by absentee ballot is the best way for the voter to do that.”

Residents can request an absentee ballot online at or pick up an application at City Hall.

Mailed ballots and in-person drop offs must be received by 4:30 p.m. April 7.

Ertmer said time is running short for absentee voting.

“They only have a couple more days to vote by absentee ballot in-person at their municipal clerk’s office,” Ertmer said. “If they don’t know where that office is, they can call our office at 920-232-3432 and we’ll get them their municipal clerk’s contact information.”

The last day to vote by absentee ballot is determined by the resident’s municipal clerk, but it could be as soon as Friday.

“Some clerks are extending their in-person absentee voting over the weekend, so they’ll need to check with their clerk for times,” Ertmer said.

With the majority of poll workers being retirees, the election can be safe and successful by participating in absentee voting.

“Polling locations are looking for poll workers because the current poll workers are older and don’t want to work this election,” Executive Director for Campus Life Jean Kwaterski said. “If anyone is interested in working at the polls, they should contact their City Clerk’s office to see if they need assistance.”

Election officials said nearly 60% of Wisconsin municipalities have an urgent shortage of poll workers, according to a press release.

To help alleviate this challenge, Gov. Tony Evers said he’s calling out the National Guard to staff polling places across the state.

There are 111 communities that don’t have the ability to staff even one polling place on April 7, according to the WEC.

Wisconsin local election officials said they’re about 7,000 poll workers short for election day.

Winnebago County does not have enough poll workers for the upcoming election, but Ertmer said it shouldn’t affect voting.

“People will still be able to vote, but they may have to wait in line longer,” Ertmer said.

Kwaterski said there will not be voting in Reeve Memorial Union for the April 7 election.

“The majority of the people who vote in Reeve, which are wards three and four, are residence hall students and some people who live close to campus,” Kwaterski said. “Because the campus buildings are locked and the majority of the residence halls students have left, the City Clerk’s office moved the polling to St. John’s Church.”

Ertmer said there has been some challenges with the voting process due to the coronavirus.

“The real struggles are more at the municipal clerk level—loss of poll workers, increase in absentee ballot requests, etc.,” Ertmer said. “At the county level, we’re just trying to be an advocate and facilitator for those clerks—getting them more ballots, election supplies, poll workers, personal protection equipment for poll workers, etc.”

Ertmer said participating in the election process is crucial.

“Every election is important, but the Spring election is very important because this is the time when citizens elect their local officials, such as council members, mayors, county board supervisors, etc.,” Ertmer said. “Some of these races can be decided by just a handful of votes, so good voter turnout is crucial. It is also the Presidential Preference Election, which only happens every four years in a Presidential election year.”

Kwaterski said voting is important to make sure your voice is heard.

“Some people think that their one vote won’t matter, but there are many cases in history where a candidate won by only a few votes,” Kwaterski said. “Many people before you fought for the right to vote in the U.S. and many countries don’t allow their citizens to vote, so take advantage of this civic right that you have.”

It is important to keep health officials’ precautionary measures in mind when voting in person.

“If you’re going to the polls on April 7, be respectful of everyone there by practicing appropriate social distancing, following the directions given to you by the election workers and, above all, patience,” Ertmer said. “It’s going to be a challenging day for all of us. Thank you to everyone who has voted and who plans on voting.”