Wisconsin’s absentee ballot rejection rate averaged 1.14% for spring elections since 2012

Wisconsin voters went to the polls April 7 for the state’s annual spring election. This year, in addition to presidential primaries, a seat on the state Supreme Court and a ballot measure proposing an expansion of rights for victims of crime were on the ballot. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline for voters to return absentee ballots was extended from April 7 to April 13. Reporting of results was also delayed to that date.

Voters requested 1.29 million absentee ballots, the most requests since at least 2012. Between 2012 and 2019, an average of 118,445 absentee ballots were sent out in each Wisconsin spring election. The year where the most ballots were sent was 2016 with 247,052. The year with the least was 2014 with 67,917. An average of 82% of ballots were received in time to be counted, ranging from 92.22% in 2016 to 74.10% in 2019.

Each year, less than 2% of absentee ballots were rejected. The year with the most rejections was 2016 with 1,629, while the year with the greatest percentage of rejections was 2012 with 1.81%. Across all eight spring elections, an average of 1.14% of those ballots completed on time were rejected.

For an absentee ballot to be valid, Wisconsin law requires that the voter sign a certificate enclosed in the ballot envelope. A witness must be present for completion of the ballot and is also required to provide their signature. A ballot which does not meet these requirements may be rejected. A ballot is not considered to have been rejected if it was not delivered to the voter on time or if it was not returned on time. An absentee ballot is considered to have been cancelled rather than rejected if a voter is ruled ineligible or votes in-person.

Additional reading: