WEC releases information regarding absentee ballot requests, returns

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Wisconsin Elections Commission has released data regarding the number of absentee ballots requested, sent and returned as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The information released in the WEC's blog is based on data entered by Wisconsin clerks, some of who may be behind because of the workload of trying to serve Wisconsin voters.

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, officials wrote there were 1,287,764 requests for absentee ballots, with 1,275,028 ballots sent out, a difference of 12,736.

Of the ones which had been sent out, 990,129 had been returned.

That's about a 77% return rate.

Officials say those numbers don't reflect in-person ballots cast on Tuesday.

From 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday to 8 p.m., the number of absentee ballots returned went from 864,750 to 990,129, an increase of 125,379.

Voters had until 8 p.m. Tuesday to drop absentee ballots off at the polls.

Clerks also will accept any ballots postmarked Tuesday that they receive through the mail until April 13, which means clerks could be getting more ballots in the mail in the coming days.

CLICK HERE to see the full graphs of data released by the WEC as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The city of Milwaukee's top election official says hundreds of absentee ballots filed without a witness signature during the roughly 24 hours a federal judge said the requirement didn't apply won't count.

U.S District Judge William Conley on Thursday lifted the witness signature requirement for absentee voters in light of social distancing mandates to slow the coronavirus.

A federal appellate court reinstated the requirement the next day.

State election officials have said ballots filed without a witness signature are therefore invalid and voters who cast them can't vote again in any way.

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht says that as of Tuesday afternoon the city had received 750 absentee ballots without a witness signature. He says those ballots will not count.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett apologized Tuesday for the election, saying it's embarrassing that the Republican-controlled Legislature didn't postpone the election and now tens of thousands of people to choose between voting and risking infection at the polls.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.