What Wisconsin’s rejected mail-in ballots could signal for coming pandemic elections — 7/23/20

A roundup of top news and information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus

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Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues, and we always provide our news for free.

You can read all of our coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage by signing up for our Wisconsin COVID-19 Update newsletter, and please consider becoming a member to support our nonprofit journalism. 

Today we highlight our latest investigation. APM Reports journalists Tom Scheck and Geoff Hing joined Wisconsin Watch Managing Editor Dee J. Hall in examining why more than 23,000 Wisconsin absentee ballots did not count in the April election. Hundreds of thousands more voters than normal chose mail-in voting because of the pandemic.

The top reason for rejection: voter error. Many voters, unfamiliar with absentee balloting, failed to include required information, such as the address and signature of the person witnessing the ballot. Wisconsin elections officials expect the sharp shift toward absentee balloting will return in November as the threat from COVID-19 continues. But voters in Wisconsin and other states without a history of widespread absentee balloting could see a substantial number of their ballots rejected.

Top Stories

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Milwaukee River, runs through Cedarburg, Wis., where 209 ballots were rejected in the April primary presidential election. Many voters missed lines on the absentee ballot envelope that required signatures and the address of the person witnessing the ballot.

How Wisconsin’s 23,000 rejected absentee ballots could spell trouble for the November electionWisconsin Watch/APM Reports 

Public Service Commission extends moratorium on utility shut-offsMilwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

Gov. Tony Evers announces $46.6 million in federal aid for eligible Wisconsin schoolsWisconsin State Journal 

‘This study resonates with us’: Many Milwaukee homes lack separate bathrooms and bedrooms needed for COVID isolationMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

A gap in federal unemployment benefits is now unavoidable. Here’s why.POLITICO

Yes, taxpayers have paid at least $70 million for COVID drug that will cost patients thousands — PolitiFact Wisconsin 

Oneida Nation to require face coverings on reservation starting MondayGreen Bay Press-Gazette 

COVID-19: Sauk County Board declares it can’t mandate wearing of masksBaraboo News-Republic 

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Housing trouble? 

Are you worried about losing your home or apartment because of the pandemic? Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier media. Click here for details.

Quotable

“This is not going to be a normal year. If your child is sick, if they’re running a fever, if they have a really bad headache, if they’re vomiting or have diarrhea, this is not the year to send them to school to see if we find out, or have the school nurse check them out to see how bad their diarrhea is or how bad we think their sore throat is. Keep them at home.”

Louise Wilson, state school nurse and health services consultant with the Department of Public Instruction, as quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Thursday reported 1,052 new cases of COVID-19, with 6.9% of tests returning positive. The department reported 13 new deaths in a pandemic that has reportedly killed 878.

Here are the latest visualizations of COVID-19 cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext.

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Having trouble finding reliable face masks? So did this business owner. He did something about it.WTMJ-TV

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