There are three Frequently Asked Questions today
Wisconsin Elections Commission’s Latest Actions Regarding Spring Election Preparedness
On March 18 the Wisconsin Elections Commission met and authorized WEC staff to spend up to $200,000 on additional supplies needed for absentee voting, including envelopes and labels. WEC staff has located a supplier of envelopes and plans to purchase 500,000 more for distribution to municipalities that need them.
The commission took the following additional actions regarding the April 7 Spring election:
--WEC staff is directed to develop best practices related to minimizing potential viral transmission during election processes.
--WEC urgently requests the Governor and DHS to help secure a supply of hand sanitizer and other sanitation resources for our clerks and polling places.
--WEC encourages clerks to recruit and train additional poll workers in advance of the election.
--WEC encourages all Wisconsin voters to request an absentee ballot thru
and to return the ballot by mail.
--WEC directs all municipal clerks to accommodate in-person absentee voting and registration as required by state law making any changes needed based on local circumstances to the location, hours and processes used.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and Guidance on Procedural Changes for Care Facility Absentee Voting and Polling Place Relocation (Updated)
Effect of DHS’ Order #5 on Municipalities
(Prohibitions on gatherings of 10 or more people)
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services’
prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 or more persons contains several exemptions, some of which provide local governments with flexibility in handling government operations during the public health emergency. Exemptions of note for municipalities include:
Exemption # 1 – Transportation
Exemption # 5 – Government
Law enforcement … and any facility used to respond to natural disasters or public health emergencies.
State and local government facilities, including government service centers, unless prohibited elsewhere in [the] order or another order.
Some municipalities have expressed uncertainty regarding whether they can choose to be more restrictive than the order. The answer is yes. Local government facilities are exempted, but municipalities may still elect to put in place best practices to contend with the public health emergency they are currently facing. The order provides that voluntary cancellation, closure, or limitations on size of gathering beyond the requirements in the order are permitted. Additionally, the Exemption # 5 language “unless prohibited elsewhere in [the] order
or another order
” (emphasis added) allows municipalities to issue orders that are more restrictive than DHS’s order regarding local government facilities and makes the exemption subject to the municipal order. The Governor released this
further explaining Exemption # 5.
Despite the exemptions for government facilities, the League is aware that many communities are taking actions to limit gatherings in government facilities, including exploring alternatives such as teleworking, virtual or electronic meetings (in conformity with Open Meetings Law
), and emergency leave policies for employees. Social distancing and sanitizing practices may also be used for those employees reporting to work, during any physical meetings of governmental bodies, and for members of the public visiting government facilities (to the extent applicable).
Can Restaurants Providing Meals for Carry-out and Delivery Sell Alcohol?
The League has received several questions relating to whether alcohol can be delivered by restaurants that are open for take-out or delivery service.
The answer depends on the facts. With very limited exceptions, that are not applicable here, Wisconsin law requires that sales of alcohol take place in face-to-face transactions at the licensed premise. Wis. Stat. §§ 125.01, 125.272, and 125.51(6). A restaurant with a class “B” beer license can sell beer to consumers for off-premise consumption. If the restaurant also has a “class B” liquor license, it can sell wine in original bottles or containers for off-premise consumption. Sec. 12.51(3)(a). If the municipality has an ordinance authorizing it, the restaurant can also sell intoxicating liquor in original packages or containers. Sec. 125.51(3)(b). Again, sales must take place face-to-face at the licensed premise, so a restaurant delivering food cannot deliver alcohol. Restaurants selling alcohol with carry-out food must ensure the sale takes place at the licensed premise so curbside delivery is not allowed unless there is a parking space or other outside area designated as part of the licensed premise.