Military and overseas voters from Wisconsin will be able to request absentee ballots from a single website under a project underway at the state's elections agency.
Right now, overseas military voters need to contact their municipal clerks directly to get absentee ballots sent to them. The website being developed by the Government Accountability Board essentially takes that patchwork of local clerks out of the equation. Board spokesman Reid Magney says this website will centralize and automate the process so that absentee ballots can be distributed and sent back more quickly. "If you're in Afghanistan, you go, you log on, you put in your information, it tells you exactly who your clerk is," he says. "It will then print you an absentee ballot for that election and give you all the information necessary for you to mail that ballot directly to the clerk. And so the idea is really to speed the process up."
Magney says under the current system, getting physical ballots mailed to voters in combat zones can take time, running the risk that those ballots won't get sent back in time to be counted. And while clerks are allowed to e-mail ballots to overseas voters, Magney says they don't all have that capability. "There are approximately 200 clerks in Wisconsin who don't have e-mail and may not have the ability to send out ballots like this if they have someone from their area so then they would have to make arrangements with someone else."
The project is being paid for by a one-point-nine million dollar federal grant from the Department of Defense. Magney says the site should be ready by mid-September.