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La Crosse Talk

Absentee ballots shouldn’t need witness signature



We saw what happened in the last election in Wisconsin. People potentially putting their lives at risk in order to cast a ballot. A majority of voters for the first time opted to stay away from the polls and vote absentee. That is why it is important that Wisconsin simplify the rules for voting via a mail in ballot. One of the most archaic rules governing absentee voting in Wisconsin is the requirement that absentee ballots bear the signature of a witness before it is returned and counted. For many people, that means a spouse serving as the witness. But for others, particularly the state’s elderly population, getting a witness signature can be difficult. As the coronavirus continues to force social distancing, it isn’t advisable for the elderly to invite someone over for a ballot signing party. For those in nursing homes, it can be nearly impossible. Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states with the witness requirement, and in addition to being an impediment to voting, it also seems unnecessary. Those requesting an absentee ballot by mail already have to provide a copy of their photo ID. And they have to sign the ballot, and clerks can easily compare the signature to those already on file. We have to consider the possibility that the coronavirus may impact the November election, and even more people will likely choose to vote absentee. Wisconsin should join the majority of states and do away with the requirement absentee ballots contain a witness signature.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Karen Euchner

    May 4, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    I totally agree with you that mail in ballots should not have to be witnessed. I am a regular voter, and a working adult. I requested a mail in ballot for 4/7 elections but couldn’t return it because I didn’t have an adult witness. We were in Safer at Home – working from home mode. My 17 year old kid couldn’t witness my ballot, and I sure wasn’t going to go out and find a witness!

    Thanks for bringing this up for discussion!

  2. Jay

    May 5, 2020 at 7:31 am

    What a joke. Do you know the voter fraud this would create?

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