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As candidates drop, Wisconsin voters can re-cast a ballot

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FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2020 file photo, workers count Milwaukee County ballots on Election Day at Central Count in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — More than 140,000 people had already cast their ballots by mail or early in-person voting in Wisconsin’s Aug. 9 primary before Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, a top candidate for U.S. Senate, dropped out and endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who polls showed trailing Lasry and Barnes by double digits, also dropped out of the Senate race this week, both throwing their support to Barnes.

People who voted early for someone who has since dropped out can re-cast their ballot. Here’s how:

SPOILING A BALLOT

The first step is spoiling the old ballot. Voters can contact their clerk by phone, by email or in person, and should be prepared to provide the name and address they used when registering to vote. Clerks will locate the voter’s ballot, write “spoiled” on the envelope and make a small tear to indicate it is no longer valid.

REQUESTING A NEW BALLOT

Voters can then vote again. They can ask their clerk to issue a new ballot by mail, or they can vote absentee in person or at their polling place on Aug. 9.

HOW MUCH TIME DO VOTERS HAVE?

Requests for a new ballot by mail or to spoil an absentee ballot and vote at a polling place on the day of the primary must be made by Thursday, Aug. 4. A voter who qualifies as indefinitely confined has until Friday, Aug. 5 to request a new ballot by mail.

Requests to spoil a ballot and vote early in person are allowed until 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7 at the latest. However, in-person absentee voting deadlines vary by municipality. Voters should contact their clerk or visit their website to find out the deadlines that apply.

WHEN SHOULD A VOTER MAIL BACK THEIR ABSENTEE BALLOT?

For an absentee ballot to be counted, a clerk must receive it by 8 p.m. on the day of an election. To be sure it arrives on time, the U.S. Postal Service recommends mailing an absentee ballot at least a week before it’s due.

DOES A VOTER NEED A REASON TO SPOIL THEIR BALLOT?

No reason is required. A clerk should not ask a voter to justify their request. However, Wisconsin law limits voters to three ballots per election, so people can spoil their ballot only twice.


Harm Venhuizen is a corps member in the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Harm on Twitter.

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