The Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, joined the Wisconsin state election officials on Friday and urged postal voters who have not yet returned their ballots to do so personally.
With only four days left until election day, data compiled by the Wisconsin Elections Commission showed that 223,135 ballots mailed to voters by mail had not been returned on Friday morning. Election officials began encouraging mail-ordered voters to return their ballots in person earlier this week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that ballots received in Wisconsin after 8 p.m. on November 3 could no longer be counted.
“If you still have your ballot paper, fill it out and return it as soon as you are able,” Evers said during a press conference on Friday. “At this time, I do not recommend sending it, as it must arrive by 8:00 p.m. on election day.
Evers said that on election day, voters can still return postal ballots at official ballot boxes, at their local secretary’s office, and in some districts at their designated polling stations. He advised voters to pay close attention to the instructions that accompany their postal ballot papers to determine if they are permitted to return them to the polling stations in their area.
“We must all ensure that their vote counts and is heard,” Evers said.
Meagan Wolfe, an administrator for the state election commission, had previously encouraged voters to either vote in person or hand in their postal ballots at approved locations to meet the November 3 deadline. The Supreme Court ruling earlier this week did not change the rules for Wisconsin from previous election years, but was the result of a Democratic-led push to extend the deadline for receiving ballots by six days, an attempt that was made in part in anticipation of a larger number of postal ballots being submitted during this election cycle due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Throughout the year, the USPS has repeatedly reminded us that it may take up to a week for these ballots to be delivered by mail,” Wolfe said during a press conference on Thursday. “Now that we have less than seven days, voters must consider another method of getting these ballots to the polls in time for counting.
At the time of Wolfe’s press conference, she said that about 250,000 postal ballots in the state had not yet been returned. She said, however, that this number may not be correct because some voters may have changed their mind about voting in person since they requested their postal ballots.
Evers reminded those who choose to vote in person to wear masks at the polls, practice social distancing, bring their photo ID, and prepare to be patient.
“When you go to the polls, you should be friendly and patient and express some gratitude. Especially this: Express a little gratitude to our election workers and our clerks who help to do everything possible to ensure that everything runs smoothly and safely,” said Evers.
The governor said that voters at some polling stations can also count on members of the Wisconsin National Guard. Evers told state residents on Thursday that about 400 soldiers will be available from November 1 to 4 to support the election workers as needed.
Wisconsin is one of six key states that could influence the outcome of the presidential election. President Donald Trump won the state in 2016 by a narrow margin of 0.7 percent, but recent polls suggest that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a stronger lead in the state. According to the average state polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight, Biden led by more than 8 points in Wisconsin on Friday.
It was expected that both candidates would make campaign stops in Wisconsin on Friday to gather their bases, and state party officials also released news in social media this week to remind voters of the options available to them before and on election day. Tekk.tv contacted the Wisconsin Democratic Party and the Wisconsin Republican Party to ask for comments on the news that they were sending to voters in the mail, but did not receive a response in time for publication.