Madison: Clerk’s Office Makes Changes to Better Serve Absentee Voters in Care Facilities
Wisconsin Eagle/10264807

~ Madison City Clerk's Office Goes Above and Beyond to Ensure Absentee Voting for Nursing Home Residents

In an effort to better serve absentee voters, the Madison City Clerk's Office coordinated 54 visits to nursing homes and care facilities this week. This initiative was in accordance with state law, which requires poll workers to bring absentee voting directly to those who have requested it in certain nursing homes and care facilities. With 27 of these facilities located within the city, a pair of poll workers known as Special Voting Deputies (SVDs) were responsible for visiting each facility twice before the upcoming election.

The SVDs' main objective during these visits was to connect with every resident who had requested an absentee ballot. For the April Election, there were a total of 493 absentee requests on file across the 27 facilities. During their visit, the SVDs assisted these voters in marking their ballots and sealed them in an absentee envelope, which would be counted at the polls on Election Day. If any assistance was needed in marking the ballot, only a family member or SVD was allowed to provide it.

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In order to ensure that every eligible voter had the opportunity to cast their ballot, the SVDs made a second visit to each facility. This time, they aimed to reach those who were unavailable during their first visit. For those residents who could not be reached even after two visits, the Clerk's Office would mail them their ballots.

The process of Special Voting Deputies begins 22 days before Election Day. In previous years, completing all 54 site visits would take two weeks, leaving only 12 days for absentee ballots to travel through the mail back and forth between voters and the Clerk's Office. However, due to delays in mail delivery within Madison itself, it was necessary for a two-week window to be allocated for this process.

It is crucial that absentee ballots are received by Election Day in order to be counted. To ensure this, the Clerk's Office scheduled all 54 visits between 18 to 22 days before the Spring Election. This required the recruitment and training of additional poll workers, with a total of 72 individuals serving as Special Voting Deputies for this election. The Clerk's Office also had dedicated staff working throughout the week to prepare SVD materials, check in returned absentee ballots, verify seal numbers, and answer any questions from SVDs over the phone.

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Mayor Rhodes-Conway expressed her appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the City Clerk's Office in making it easier for residents to vote. "In some parts of our country officials are working to make it more difficult to vote, but here in Madison, the fabulous employees in the City Clerk's office are doing the opposite," she said. "Through an amazing amount of work staff were able to connect with residents of long-term care facilities to guarantee that their vote will be counted for the April primary. I know they are grateful for that effort and so am I."

The ultimate goal of the City Clerk's Office is to ensure that every eligible voter has their ballot counted. With their efforts in coordinating these visits and providing assistance to nursing home residents, they have taken a significant step towards achieving this goal.

Filed Under: Government, City

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