The county clerk may receive and store any unused ballots after an election upon request of any municipal clerk of a municipality within the county, and may destroy such ballots pursuant to s. 7.23 (1) (am)
(2) Preparing ballots.
The county clerk shall prepare copy for the official ballots immediately upon receipt of the certified list of candidates' names from the commission. Names certified by the commission shall be arranged in the order certified. The county clerk shall place the names of all candidates filed in the clerk's office or certified to the clerk by the commission on the proper ballot or ballots under the appropriate office and party titles. The county clerk shall prepare a special ballot under s. 5.60 (8)
showing only the candidates in the presidential preference primary.
The county clerk shall distribute the ballots to the municipal clerks no later than 48 days before each partisan primary and general election and no later than 22 days before each other primary and election, except that the clerk shall distribute the ballots under sub. (2)
for the presidential preference primary no later 48 days before the presidential preference primary. Election forms prepared by the commission shall be distributed at the same time. If the commission transmits an amended certification under s. 7.08 (2) (a)
or if the commission or a court orders a ballot error to be corrected under s. 5.06 (6)
or 5.72 (3)
after ballots have been distributed, the county clerk shall distribute corrected ballots to the municipal clerks as soon as possible.
The county clerk shall distribute an adequate supply of separately wrapped official ballots to each municipal clerk so the municipal clerk may supply ballots to absent elector applicants. The remaining ballots shall be sent in separately sealed packages clearly designating the ward for which each is intended and the approximate number of ballots of each kind enclosed.
(4) Resolving notice doubts.
When in doubt as to compliance with the statutory requirements for election notices or the correct fees to be paid for them, the county clerk may consult the commission.
(6) Municipal judge; certified list.
If candidates for the office of a municipal judge who is elected under s. 755.01 (4)
file nomination papers in the office of the county clerk and any municipality served by the judge prepares its own ballots for voting machines or an electronic voting system, the county clerk shall certify to the municipal clerk of that municipality the names of the candidates for judge as soon as possible after the last day for filing nomination papers and after certification by the county board of canvassers of the results of any primary election.
(7) Voter education.
Each county clerk shall assist the commission in conducting educational programs under s. 5.05 (12)
to inform electors about the voting process.
(8) Free election information exchange.
Each county clerk shall assist the commission and municipal clerks in maintaining toll-free telephone lines and other free access systems under s. 5.05 (13)
for exchange of voting information.
(9) Training of election officials.
Each county clerk shall assist the commission in the training of election officials under s. 5.05 (7)
(10) Information to commission.
Each county clerk shall provide to the commission any information requested under s. 5.05 (14)
In this case, the petitioners waited two weeks after the Wisconsin Elections Commission's failure to certify at least 2,000 valid signatures at its August 20, 2020, meeting before asking the court for relief. The petitioners delayed in seeking relief in a situation with very short deadlines, and under the circumstances, including the fact that the 2020 fall general election had essentially begun, it was too late to grant petitioners any form of relief that would be feasible and that would not cause confusion and undue damage to both the Wisconsin electors who wanted to vote and the other candidates in all of the various races on the general election ballot. Hawkins v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2020 WI 75
, 393 Wis. 2d 629
, 948 N.W.2d 877
County clerks are not to interpret Wisconsin's election laws and make declarations based on those interpretations. It is the Wisconsin Elections Commission that is responsible for guidance in the administration and enforcement of Wisconsin's election laws, not the county clerks. Jefferson v. Dane County, 2020 WI 90
, 394 Wis. 2d 602
, 951 N.W.2d 556
Menominee county; town elections.
The clerk shall prepare a ballot distinguishing between supervisors elected at large and by ward in any county having only one town with a part of the county board members elected by wards.
History: 1971 c. 304
s. 29 (2)
; 1973 c. 334
Municipal clerks. 7.15(1)(1)
Supervise registration and elections.
Each municipal clerk has charge and supervision of elections and registration in the municipality. The clerk shall perform the following duties and any others which may be necessary to properly conduct elections or registration:
Provide for the purchase and maintenance of election equipment.
Prepare ballots for municipal elections, and distribute ballots and provide other supplies for conducting all elections. The municipal clerk shall deliver the ballots to the polling places before the polls open.
Prepare official absentee ballots for delivery to electors requesting them, and except as provided in this paragraph, send an official absentee ballot to each elector who has requested a ballot by mail, and to each military elector, as defined in s. 6.34 (1)
, and overseas elector who has requested a ballot by mail, electronic mail, or facsimile transmission, no later than the 47th day before each partisan primary and general election and no later than the 21st day before each other primary and election if the request is made before that day; otherwise, the municipal clerk shall send or transmit an official absentee ballot within one business day of the time the elector's request for such a ballot is received. The clerk shall send or transmit an absentee ballot for the presidential preference primary to each elector who has requested that ballot no later than the 47th day before the presidential preference primary if the request is made before that day, or, if the request is not made before that day, within one business day of the time the request is received. For purposes of this paragraph, “business day" means any day from Monday to Friday, not including a legal holiday under s. 995.20
Prepare the necessary notices and publications in connection with the conduct of elections or registrations.
Train election officials in their duties, calling them together whenever advisable, advise them of changes in laws, rules and procedures affecting the performance of their duties, and administer examinations as authorized under s. 7.30 (2) (c)
. The training shall conform with the requirements prescribed in rules promulgated by the commission under ss. 7.31
. The clerk shall assure that officials who serve at polling places where an electronic voting system is used are familiar with the system and competent to instruct electors in its proper use. The clerk shall inspect systematically and thoroughly the conduct of elections in the municipality so that elections are honestly, efficiently and uniformly conducted.
Discharge election officials for improper conduct or willful neglect of duties.
In the manner prescribed by the commission, report suspected election frauds, irregularities, or violations of which the clerk has knowledge to the district attorney for the county where the suspected activity occurs and to the commission. The commission shall annually report the information obtained under this paragraph to the legislature under s. 13.172 (2)
Review, examine and certify the sufficiency and validity of petitions and nomination papers.
Direct how and when to destroy the contents of the blank ballot boxes and unused election materials.
Send an absentee ballot automatically to each elector and send or transmit an absentee ballot to each military elector, as defined in s. 6.34 (1)
, and each overseas elector making an authorized request therefor in accordance with s. 6.22 (4)
, 6.24 (4)
, or 6.86 (2)
Reassign inspectors appointed to serve at one polling place to another polling place within the municipality whenever necessary to assure adequate staffing at all polling places. No such reassignment may have the effect of eliminating representation at a polling place by one of the political parties entitled to nominate inspectors under s. 7.30 (2) (a)
(1m) Attend training.
Each municipal clerk shall, at least once every 2 years during the period beginning on January 1 of each even-numbered year and ending on December 31 of the following year, attend a training program sponsored by the commission under ss. 7.31
(2) Municipal election duties. 7.15(2)(a)
In municipal elections, the municipal clerks shall perform the duties prescribed for county clerks by s. 7.10
Cities over 500,000 population may prepare their own official and sample ballots. Official ballots not utilized as absentee ballots shall be printed so they are ready at least 2 days before the election.
With the consent of the county clerk, municipalities may prepare their own ballots whenever voting machines or electronic voting systems are used in elections where candidates for both local offices and national, state or county offices appear on the ballot. This paragraph does not apply to cities under par. (b)
Whenever the governing body of any municipality submits any question to a vote of the electors or whenever a proper recall petition and certificate are filed under s. 9.10
, the municipal clerk shall issue a call for the election and prepare and distribute ballots as required in the authorization of submission or as provided in s. 9.10
. The date of the referendum shall be fixed by the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners unless otherwise provided by law or unless the governing body fixes a date. The ballot for any referendum shall conform to s. 5.64 (2)
. If there is already an official municipal referendum ballot for the election, the question may appear on the same ballot.
(2m) Operation of alternate absentee ballot site.
In a municipality in which the governing body has elected to establish an alternate absentee ballot site under s. 6.855
, the municipal clerk shall operate such site as though it were his or her office for absentee ballot purposes and shall ensure that such site is adequately staffed.
(3) Ballot supply; sample ballots. 7.15(3)(a)
Where voting machines are used or where electronic voting systems are employed, the municipal clerk shall provide at least 2 duplicate sample ballots for each ward in diagram form showing the board or screen inside each voting machine or the front of each ballot as it will appear in the voting machines or booths on election day.
Sample ballots and voting machine ballots shall be furnished to the officials in the ward or election district at least one day before each election.
(4) Recording electors.
Except as authorized in s. 6.33 (5) (a)
, within 30 days after each election, the municipal clerk shall enter on the registration list under the name of each elector of the municipality who has voted at the election an indication of the date of the election in which the elector voted.
(5) Record of ballots received.
Each municipal clerk shall keep a record of when and in what condition the packages containing the ballots were received from the county clerk. The municipal clerk shall deliver to the proper officials the unopened packages of ballots the day before the election.
The municipal clerk shall provide substitute paper ballots in substantially the form of the original ballots whenever the necessary original ballots are not delivered to the municipality, are destroyed, are lost or stolen after delivery, are not ready for distribution or the supply is exhausted during polling hours. The municipal clerk may also provide substitute paper ballots, together with ballot boxes and voting booths, whenever a voting machine or electronic voting system is rendered inoperable by a malfunction which occurs within 24 hours of the time set for opening of the polls. Paper ballots may be cast only in accordance with the procedures prescribed in ss. 6.80 (2)
and 7.37 (4)
Upon receiving the substitute paper ballots accompanied by a statement made under oath by the municipal clerk that the ballots have been prepared and furnished by the clerk to replace the original ballots which are not available, or to substitute for a voting machine or electronic voting system which has been rendered inoperable by a malfunction which occurred within 72 hours of the time set for opening of the polls, the election officials shall use the substitute ballots in the same manner as if they had been original ballots.
(7) Request canvass assistance.
The municipal clerk may request all election officials to assist the inspectors in canvassing the votes received at the respective polling places.
(8) Resolving notice doubts.
When in doubt as to compliance with the statutory requirements for election notices or the correct fees to be paid for them, the municipal clerk may consult the commission.
(9) Voter education.
Each municipal clerk shall assist the commission in conducting educational programs under s. 5.05 (12)
to inform electors about the voting process.
(10) Free election information exchange.
Each municipal clerk shall assist the commission in maintaining toll-free telephone lines and any other free access systems under s. 5.05 (13)
for exchange of voting information.
(11) Training of election officials.
Each municipal clerk shall train election officials under ss. 7.31
(12) Free vote counting information.
Each municipal clerk shall maintain a free access information system under which an elector who votes under s. 6.96
may ascertain current information concerning whether the elector's vote has been counted, and if the vote will not be counted, the reason that it will not be counted.
(13) Information to commission.
Each municipal clerk shall provide to the commission any information requested under s. 5.05 (14)
(14) Voting accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
Each municipal clerk shall make reasonable efforts to comply with requests for voting accommodations made by individuals with disabilities whenever feasible.
(15) Provide notice of outstanding provisional ballots.
As soon as possible after the closing hour for all polling places in the municipality on election night, the municipal clerk shall post at his or her office and on the Internet at a site announced by the clerk before the polls open, and shall make available to any person upon request, a statement of the number of electors who have cast provisional ballots at the election in the municipality that cannot be counted as of that closing hour because the electors have not satisfied relevant voting requirements.
Board of election commissioners. 7.20(1)(1)
A municipal board of election commissioners shall be established in every city over 500,000 population. A county board of election commissioners shall be established in every county over 750,000 population.
Each board of election commissioners shall consist of 3 members, each member being chosen from lists of at least 3 names each, selected and approved by the county committee of the 2 political parties receiving the most votes for governor in the county in the case of the county board of election commissioners, and receiving the most votes for governor in the city in the case of the city board of election commissioners, in the last general election. The county executive, for the county board of election commissioners, shall select from the list 2 persons from the majority party and one person from the next highest party in the county. The mayor, for the city board of election commissioners, shall select from the list 2 persons from the majority party and one person from the next highest party in the city.
The persons chosen shall be qualified electors and residents of the state and county and, for the city board of election commissioners, of the city.
Before beginning their duties as election commissioners each appointee shall take and file the official oath.
Each board of election commissioners shall choose its own chairperson. An act of a majority of the board is an act of the board.
The election commissioners shall not hold any other public office and are ineligible for any appointive or elective public office, except the office of notary public, during their term.
The term of office shall be 4 years, and until successors have been commissioned and qualified, beginning on July 1 each year following a presidential election. Successors shall be appointed the same way.
Municipal clerks are the officials primarily responsible for election administration in Wisconsin. A “board of election commissioners" is established in Wisconsin's high population cities and counties to carry out the duties otherwise accomplished by municipal and county clerks everywhere else. The phrase “municipal clerk or board of election commissioners" appears in tandem all over the election statutes because that describes the duties of local election officials. State ex rel. Zignego v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 32
, 396 Wis. 2d 391
, 957 N.W.2d 208
Election commissioners, duties and regulations. 7.21(1)(1)
All powers and duties assigned to the municipal or county clerk or the municipal or county board of canvassers under chs. 5
shall be carried out by the municipal or county board of election commissioners or its executive director, unless specifically retained or assigned in this section or s. 7.22
The county clerk shall serve as executive director of the county board of election commissioners. The clerk shall perform whatever duties the board of election commissioners assigns to him or her. An executive director of the city board of election commissioners shall be appointed under s. 62.51
The board of election commissioners is authorized to employ additional clerical assistants to carry out its necessary duties. The assistants' salaries shall be fixed by the governing body of the municipality or county.
The board of election commissioners may procure a seal to authenticate official papers and documents.
The city council and county board shall provide office space in the city hall and county courthouse, respectively, pay all the necessary expenses, cooperate with the board of election commissioners, provide storage space for the election equipment and supplies and assist with the moving and conducting of the elections as necessary.
Municipal board of election commissioners. 7.22(1)(1)
The common council shall determine the salaries of the election commissioners and shall include sufficient funds in its budget to allow the municipal board of election commissioners to fulfill its duties.
All expenses shall be paid upon order of the municipal board of election commissioners, signed by the chairperson and executive director and countersigned by the city comptroller. The orders, made payable to persons in whose favor issued, shall be the vouchers for the city treasurer for the payment of the orders.
The municipal board of election commissioners shall prepare and furnish copies of all registrations, books, maps, instructions, and forms pertaining to the rules for registration and conducting elections for the use and guidance of the election officials.
The municipal board of election commissioners shall compile and publish a biennial report, containing election statistics and returns of all primaries and elections held within their city and county. Copies of the same shall be distributed to persons in such quantities as the municipal board of election commissioners deems proper.
The chief of police shall station a police officer at polling places designated by the municipal board of election commissioners for each election.
Destruction of election materials. 7.23(1)(1)
All materials and supplies associated with an election, except as provided in sub. (2)
, may be destroyed according to the following schedule:
Except as provided in par. (am)
, unused materials after an election and the contents of the blank ballot box after a primary may be destroyed at a time and in a manner designated by the appropriate clerk.
Unused ballots may be discarded or destroyed no earlier than the day after the latest day for the filing of a petition for a recount under s. 9.01
for any office on the ballots.
Registration forms of electors whose registrations are changed to ineligible status under s. 6.50 (7)
may be destroyed 4 years after the change, unless an elector becomes eligible again during that period.
Financial reports may be destroyed 6 years after the date of receipt. Financial registration statements may be destroyed 6 years after termination of registration.
Poll lists created for any election may be destroyed 22 months after the election at which they were created.
Except as authorized in par. (g)
, ballots, applications for absentee ballots, registration forms, or other records and papers requisite to voting at any federal election, other than registration cards, may be destroyed after 22 months.
Detachable recording units and compartments for use with tabulating equipment for an electronic voting system may be cleared or erased 14 days after any primary and 21 days after any other election. Before clearing or erasing the units or compartments, a municipal clerk shall transfer the data contained in the units or compartments to a disk or other recording medium which may be erased or destroyed 22 months after the election to which the data relates. The requirement to transfer data does not apply to units or compartments for use with tabulating equipment for an electronic voting system that was approved for use prior to January 1, 2009, and that is not used in a federal election.
Except as provided in par. (f)
, ballots may be destroyed 30 days after any election.