Gearing up for Tuesday, November 4th: More than 240,000 have already cast their ballot

MADISON (WITI) – More than 240,300 absentee ballots were cast as we headed into Friday, October 31st -- the last day of early voting. This, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

Of the 240,308 ballots cast through Friday morning, there were 173,361 early votes cast in clerk’s offices and there were 66,947 ballots cast by mail or other absentee voting methods.

There were 22,462 absentee ballots issued that had not yet been returned.

“Ballots cast” means ballots completed and returned to the municipal clerk’s office. Those ballots are stored securely and then counted on Election Day at the polls or an alternate location.

“We have surpassed early voting numbers for the 2012 recall election, and will likely surpass all absentee voting for the recall,” said Kevin J. Kennedy, Wisconsin’s chief election official.

In June 2012, there were 153,854 in-person (early) absentee votes and 265,427 total absentee votes. Historically, the highest voter turnout in a November gubernatorial election in the last 50 years was 52.4 percent in 1962.

Kennedy has projected that 2.5 million Wisconsin residents – or 56.5 percent of eligible voters – will vote in the 2014 General Election, which would be a record for a November gubernatorial election. Turnout in the June 2012 recall was 2,516,371 voters, or 57.8 percent.

Kennedy cautioned that the absentee numbers released are partial and preliminary.

Out of Wisconsin’s 1,852 municipal clerks, about 360 use the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) to track absentee ballots. However, those are the state’s larger municipalities, which cover 69 percent of Wisconsin’s voters. Also, some clerks may have delays in entering absentee ballots in SVRS.

Because of changes in election law moving the primary election date and changing the time period for in-person absentee voting in clerks’ offices, direct comparisons between these preliminary numbers and preliminary numbers from previous elections are difficult. Also, the number of clerks who track absentee ballots in SVRS has changed over time. Clerks tracked about 43 percent of absentee ballots in SVRS for the 2008 Presidential and General Election, compared to nearly 67 percent during the 2012 Gubernatorial Recall Election.

Here are some historical numbers of absentee ballots cast in recent elections:

Election Date TotalVoters Turnout TotalAbsentee

Absentee Votes in Clerk’s Office
11/6/2012 3,080,628 70.4% 664,597 514,398
6/5/2012 2,516,371 57.8% 265,427 153,854
11/2/2010 2,185,017 49.7% 230,744 122,712
11/4/2008 2,996,869 69.2% 647,175 NA

Statistical reports filed by clerks in 2008 did not break out the number of absentee votes cast in-person in the clerk’s office.

The deadline to mail absentee ballots back to the clerk is Election Day, November 4th. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received in the clerk’s office by 4:00 p.m. Friday, November 7th to be counted.

Haas offered these reminders for voters going into Tuesday’s election: