Just as the faithful are called to services by the pealing of church bells on Sunday morning, voters will be called to the polls by campaign commercials before Aug. 14. I think we are all in agreement that any election in August, especially in Wisconsin, should be illegal, immoral and fattening. Yet here we go again.
Your local municipal clerk has already been inundated with information from the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the Chippewa County Clerk’s Office. The county clerk and her dedicated staff are doing their jobs in providing information and guidance to municipal clerks. Yet as one of those municipal clerks, I am not ready for a summer election.
Elections in Wisconsin are becoming more and more complex. Municipal clerks will be provided security training in ways to keep the election safe and running smoothly. We have been provided with reams of information to insure that someone does not steal your identity and sneak into the polls to vote as you.
You may not know it but the Wisconsin Elections Commission has a statewide database on everyone who has voted in an election in the last four years. You can go to https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/ and do an amazing amount of things. At that site you can register to vote, learn who is on the ballot in your area and find your polling place.
In fact, if you are tech savvy and have electronic calendars, you can even place the election date on your electronic device. Get this; if you want to vote absentee, the state of Wisconsin will assist you in getting the ballot for the election. You can register to vote online.
I am pleased that the state has this amazing tool for the computer-savvy person to use. I propose to take it to the final solution. Vote by mail. Admit it: Would you rather vote by mail or stand in line on election day, outside in bad weather, waiting while the dedicated election workers look up someone’s name and have them sign a poll book?
Heaven knows that even the most conservative state in the union, Utah, is implementing a vote by mail system. Besides being convenient, you get time to study the ballot and see who and what is on that ballot. As a public service to my fellow municipal clerks and poll workers, I have a small piece of advice for all of you going to vote on Aug. 14. Look closely at the ballot.
The ballot for Aug. 14 is complex with many offices up for grabs. There are races for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, U.S. representative, state senator, state Assembly, state treasurer, clerk of courts, sheriff, county coroner — and five different political parties to choose from in this primary election. Wouldn’t it be nice to get the ballot at your house, figure out who you are going to vote for and mail it back?
We have the technology available to us to vote by mail. Yet we continue in Wisconsin to do the old-fashioned thing. But the cat is beginning to get out of the bag. More and more people are beginning to vote absentee by mail. Under our current system, this causes local municipalities a giant pain. It is not that your municipal clerk does not want to help you, it is the fact that the rules change constantly and many municipal clerks in Chippewa County are part- time positions.
We all know that there will be a general election in November. The turnout for that election will probably be impressive. I know it is summer and that we in Wisconsin have summer on our minds.
But, please take a moment to review the election rules, what identification you will need to provide and make sure you are registered to vote.
While I am advocating for a change in the system, I and the other clerks in Chippewa County will do our best to provide a good voting experience. Chippewa County clerks don’t want to be the poster people for election screwups.
So please do your part and we will do ours.