What happens to your absentee ballot after clerks receive it

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 9:22 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - More than 1.4 million absentee ballots have been sent out to voters across the Badger state, with more than 1.1 million ballots already in the possession of local clerks all across the state.

What happens to those ballots until election day?

In the city of Eau Claire, City Clerk Carrie Riepl says each ballot is organized and safely stored away until Nov. 3.

“All of those ballots that we received by mail or from the drive-thru, we sort them by ward and place them in secure storage where they are then taken out on election day out to their appropriate polling place,” explained Riepl.

Before your ballots gets to your clerk, you can track where it is on the Wisconsin’s voting website.

No matter what date it’s received, ballots are not counted until election night in the state.

“We do not see the ballots themselves at all until election day. So when a poll worker opens the ballots on election day, they aren’t looking at those ballots as they’re opening the envelope,” said Riepl.

In Eau Claire County, more than 20,000 ballots have already been returned.

Because absentee ballots are processed and counted at the poll sites, it can make for a long day for election officials.

“It’s a lot that has to happen. The statutes outline a process for how those absentees are reviewed and how a decision is made to tabulate each one to recognize if there’s any deficiency on the certificate, if a ballot needs to be remade. And so our local election officials have been preparing for this volume,” said Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe.

If you’re wondering whether your ballot received by the clerk is actually counted on election day, Riepl says that information will be logged and people can check their own ballots status.

“After election day, probably two weeks to a month depending on the election, we go through the poll books and give every voter credit that had a ballot that was counted,” she said.

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