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Absentee ballots available online for overseas military, state voters

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's military and permanent overseas voters can request absentee ballots online beginning today (Sept. 20).

Using grant money from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) launched the voter services website My Vote WI on Sept. 17 that allows military and permanent overseas voters to download the appropriate ballot for their jurisdiction in time for the 2012 general election. The online tool is designed to make it easier for both municipal clerks and military and permanent overseas voters to submit and process absentee ballot requests, and to transmit absentee ballots between clerks and voters.

"Until now, our Wisconsin Soldiers serving abroad had to contact their local clerk's office to get their absentee ballots," said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the GAB. "The new My Vote WI website expedites ballot delivery, and helps ensure that their votes will be counted."

Currently, municipal clerks issue absentee ballots to overseas voters by mail, fax or e-mail. Clerks will continue to use these delivery channels if requested by the voter, but can ask if the voter would prefer a ballot through the online tool. The GAB will issue absentee ballots requested through My Vote WI on behalf of the appropriate clerk - the online ballots will not contain the clerk's initials. Instead, My Voter WI will print a mailing ID number on the absentee certificate that prints with the absentee ballot. The voter must complete the certificate envelope in order for the ballot to be counted.

Each absentee ballot My Vote WI issues will be automatically tracked in the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) by its mailing ID. Clerks will be notified by e-mail when voters have accessed their absentee ballot online; the notification will include the voter's mailing ID. The notifications will be sent out nightly. Clerks will also receive My Vote WI summaries for their municipality, including new online voter registrations, new online absentee applications, downloaded absentee ballots, updated voter records, and spoiled absentee ballots.

Clerks can opt out of having the GAB issue absentee ballots on their behalf, but then must take additional steps to document the status of the request as well as the absentee ballot.
My Vote WI will help Wisconsin comply with the terms of a federal court consent decree resulting from a small number of municipal clerks who did not transmit absentee ballots by federal deadlines for the 2010 and 2012 federal elections, deemed a violation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE).

Overseas residents must be registered to vote before receiving an absentee ballot. Completed absentee ballots shipped by the U.S. Postal Service must be postmarked no later than election day (Nov. 6, 2012) and received by the municipal clerk no later than 4 p.m. on the Friday after the election (Nov. 9). Other delivery methods must deliver completed absentee ballots to the municipal clerk no later than 8 p.m. on election day. State law prohibits voters who cast an absentee ballot from also voting at the polling place for the same election.

Military and overseas voters with questions about the absentee voting process may e-mail the GAB or call 1-608-261-2028 , or toll-free 1-866-VOTE-WIS .

Original content found here.
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