State Says Absentee Ballots Already Cast Won’t Count Until Voters Provide ID

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy Says Hundreds Of Ballots That Don't Comply With Voter ID Law Have Already Been Submitted

Shawn Johnson/WPR

The head of the state’s elections agency said on Tuesday that hundreds of people have already sent back absentee ballots that don’t comply with Wisconsin’s reenacted voter ID law, and that if they don’t fix their ballots, their votes won’t count.

Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said at a press conference that clerks mailed out at least 11,000 absentee ballots prior to a federal appeals court order Friday that reinstated the state’s voter ID law. Those ballots did not include instructions for people to send a photocopy of their photo ID back with the ballots, which is required under the law.

Kennedy said that the voters who already sent in ballots must follow up and get a copy of their ID to their local clerk.

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“If they don’t, the ballot will be rejected — it won’t be counted,” said Kennedy. “It won’t be destroyed, so if there’s any kind of challenge to whether or not it should have been counted, that can be addressed through the recount process, through the courts.”

Kennedy said clerks will be in contact with every voter who was mailed a ballot without photo ID instructions. He said that right now, the GAB is relying on the media to get the word out about the change. The GAB had a public service campaign ready to go a couple years ago, he said, but it doesn’t have the money for it now.

“We developed a ‘Bring it to the Ballot’ campaign,” said Kennedy. “We got the ads in. We don’t have it in the budget. We’re exploring with (the Joint Finance Committee) how we might be able to.”

Kennedy is encouraging voters to do their homework. For example, he says some college IDs that would have worked for voting in 2012 won’t work for voting now.

“Nothing’s really changed from then until now,” he said. “It’s just a question that a lot of colleges didn’t update their IDs.”

Kennedy acknowledged that implementing the law this close to the election won’t be easy, but he said that clerks and the GAB are up to the challenge.