Scam concerns grow as election, absentee efforts progress

Municipal clerks and election officials will be working all weekend long to get absentee ballots in the mail.

The Milwaukee Election Commission alone is working to mail more than 96,000 ballots to voters by Monday, Sept. 21.

"How many times can they call you about the same somethings?" said Michael Burks, who lives in Brown Deer.

Even if you have already done it, you are likely still getting messages, calls or mail from a variety of places asking you to register to vote or request to vote absentee.

"About three times a day now," Burks said. "When they start asking for social security number and other things, then I tell them good luck and goodbye."

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While some are scams, others are with independent groups who are there to help.

"If I don't have the number in my phone, I don't pick it up because I know it is going to be something about the election," Nicholas Lawson, who is registered to vote in Waukesha, said.

But how do you tell the difference?

"When we launched online registration, the legislature for some reason abolished the ability for the election commission or other clerks to train and appoint these registration deputies," said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission. "Now anyone can be out there conducting voter registration and not even have a credential to show you that they've been through proper training."

Woodall-Vogg said that when you register to vote, you never need to provide your full social security number. However, a driver's license number and date of birth are needed.

2020 is expected to be a record-breaking year for the number of absentee ballots mailed. 

While some, like Lawson, like the idea of voting by mail, others are worried about mail fraud -- and plan to vote in-person.

"I am going to the poll this year. I'm not trusting the mail at all," Burks said.

It can be difficult to tell who is trying to scam you and who is not. The Milwaukee Election Commission recommends making sure to directly communicate with your local clerk. 

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It only takes a minute to check your voter registration status at myvote.wi.gov.

The Milwaukee Election Commission asks voters interested in voting absentee to request their ballot as soon as possible, before the Oct. 29 deadline.

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