Last Friday, the Governor issued an
calling the Legislature into special session and once again urging them to pass legislation making the spring election mail-in only. GOP leadership once again rejected such an approach.
As it stands currently, The spring election will occur on Tuesday, April 7.
- By federal court order, the deadline for receiving and counting absentee ballots has been extended until 4:00 p.m. on April 13.
- Voters have until 4:00 p.m. on April 13 to submit their absentee ballot to the municipal clerk.
- Election results are NOT to be reported until after April 13 at 4:00 or as soon thereafter as votes can be tabulated.
- A witness signature on the absentee ballot certificate envelope continues to be required. (On the evening of April 3 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order removing the option for an absentee voter to submit a statement indicating they were unable to obtain a witness signature, in lieu of including a witness signature on the certificate envelope.)
- Every absentee ballot for the spring election must include a witness signature in order to be counted, even if it was mailed during the approximately 24 hours when Judge Conley's ruling last Thursday suspended that requirement.
- In a memo yesterday, WEC staff told clerks to "make their best effort" in contacting those who failed to include a signature on their ballot of options to provide the missing information. That includes the voter appearing with the original witness in the clerk's office or polling place on Election Day to provide the signature.
- Voters also have the option to correct the issue by mail by asking the clerk to send the unopened absentee ballot back to them along with a new envelope to return it. Voters would then have to open the original envelope, verify their ballot, seal it in the new envelope and obtain a witness signature.
When will Legislature convene on COVID-19?
The Legislature has not announced any immediate plans to meet in extraordinary session and no legislative floor periods are currently scheduled. However, that could change fast. Some legislators have said that the Senate could meet as early as Thursday, April 9. Meanwhile, individual legislators are drafting and introducing bills designed to help municipalities address challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, over the weekend Speaker Vos and the Assembly Republicans sent a
to Governor Evers outlining their priorities for distributing any federal aid the state receives under the CARES Act. The Assembly GOP priorities include providing assistance to local governments. Read the letter
Waiving Penalties and Interest on Delinquent Property Tax Payments
Sen. Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Rep. Hutton's (R-Brookfield) bill ,LRB 5946, that initially was drafted to give municipalities the option to change due dates for property tax installments and waive interest and penalties accrued on any late payment, has morphed into a bill prohibiting local governments from collecting penalties and interest on any delinquent property tax payments in 2020. The League continues to support the bill as it evolves.
Other Items that Should be Included in a COVID-19 Legislative Package:
Postponing Board of Review during COVID-19 Emergency.
This bill allows a municipality to postpone the meeting of its board of review so that it does not occur during the period covered by a public health emergency declared by the Governor.
Sen. Jacque (R-De Pere) introduced this bill at the
request of the Wisconsin Towns Association and the League.
Conducting Local Government Meetings During the COVID-19 Emergency
. This bill provides that, if a governing body conducting a remote meeting does not have access to technology allowing the public to monitor the proceeding contemporaneously, the publication of the minutes of the meeting in a newspaper likely to give notice to the area affected serves in lieu of open public access to the meeting. Sen. Jacque (R-De Pere) introduced this bill at the request of the League and the Wisconsin Towns Association.
Adjust Open Book Requirements.
DOR is including as part of its package of recommended legislative changes to help municipalities during the COVID-19 emergency a proposal allowing for an open book process that avoids in person contact. The proposal maintains the requirement for municipalities to make the assessment roll information available for examination, it allows municipalities to also provide the information on a municipality and county website and to have the assessor available by phone or email for the required two-hour session. It also requires a municipality to provide requested assessment roll information via postal mail upon request. This concept has not yet been drafted or introduced as a bill.