JANESVILLE — Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson says voters should be aware of federally-mandated changes to some aspects of the voting process ahead of the Aug. 11 primary and Nov. 3 general elections after the new rules took effect this week.
On June 29, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the One Wisconsin Institute case which took effect on July 29, upholding Republican-authored voting restrictions in the state.
Municipalities now may not conduct in-person absentee voting earlier than 14 days prior to each election. The Aug. 11 primary will be unaffected, but the rule will be in place ahead of the fall election that Tollefson said could see record number of votes cast.
“It will be a really high turnout,” Tollefson said of the Nov. 3 election, but did not give an estimate of what the turnout could look like.
Previously there was a 10-day voter residency requirement for voter registration that is now 28 days, meaning that anyone who has recently moved should consider contacting their local clerk’s office or visit myvote.wi.gov to update voter registration.
“That’s the piece that could be a little confusing,” Tollefson said. “If you don’t have your residency changed within that 28 day period before an election you would have to vote at your previous residence.”
Other changes include: Municipal clerks no longer can send a regular voter’s ballot by email or fax except for military members or overseas voters; If a qualifying student ID used for purposes of meeting the photo ID requirement is unexpired, then a document proving enrollment is no longer required. A document proving enrollment is still required, if the qualifying ID is expired.
Wisconsin officials are split on party lines regarding the court ruling.
Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said at the time of the ruling in June that the decision was a win for fair elections.
“The ruling puts municipalities in every corner of Wisconsin closer to equal footing when it comes to early in-person voting,” Fitzgerald said. “I applaud the 7th Circuit on its decision and look forward to moving on with this Fall’s elections.”
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler said the decision was “another egregious assault on voting rights in Wisconsin.”
“(President Donald) Trump knows his path to victory involves suppressing the vote as much as possible, and as we saw on April 7 when Republicans forced thousands of people to vote in-person during a pandemic, there is no low they aren’t willing to stoop to, to grab power,” Wikler said last month.
Tollefson will face Rock County Supervisor Yuri Rashkin in the Democratic primary on Aug. 11. The winner in the primary will run unopposed in November. If Tollefson loses, she will remain clerk until January 2021 and oversee the county’s Nov. 3 general election operation.