In all contested election cases, the contesting parties have the right to have the ballots opened and to have all errors of the inspectors, either in counting or refusing to count any ballot, corrected by the board of canvassers or court deciding the contest. The ballots and related materials may be opened only in open session of the board of canvassers or in open court and in the presence of the official having custody of them.
History: 1983 a. 484
County canvass. 7.60(1)(1)
Keep office open.
On election night the county clerk shall keep the clerk's office open to receive reports from the ward inspectors and shall post all returns. On election night the clerk shall post all returns, by ward or reporting unit, on an Internet site maintained by the county no later than 2 hours after receiving the returns.
County board of canvassers.
The county clerk and 2 qualified electors of the county appointed by the clerk constitute the county board of canvassers. The members of the board of canvassers shall serve for 2-year terms commencing on January 1 of each even-numbered year, except that any member who is appointed to fill a permanent vacancy shall serve for the unexpired term of the original appointee. One member of the board of canvassers shall belong to a political party other than the clerk's. The county clerk shall designate a deputy clerk who shall perform the clerk's duties as a member of the board of canvassers in the event that the county clerk's office is vacant, or the clerk cannot perform his or her duties. If the county clerk and designated deputy clerk are both unable to perform their duties, the county executive or, if there is no county executive, the chairperson of the county board of supervisors shall designate another qualified elector of the county to perform the clerk's duties. If a member other than the clerk cannot perform his or her duties, the clerk shall appoint another member to serve. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, no person may serve on the county board of canvassers if the person is a candidate for an office to be canvassed by that board. If the clerk is a candidate at an election being canvassed, the clerk may perform his or her duties on the board only if the clerk has no opponent whose name appears on the ballot, or, in the case of a recount, if the office the clerk is seeking is not a subject of the recount. If lists of candidates for the county board of canvassers are submitted to the county clerk by political party county committees, the lists shall consist of at least 3 names and the clerk shall choose the board members from the lists. Where there is a county board of election commissioners, it shall serve as the board of canvassers. If the county board of election commissioners serves as the board of canvassers, the executive director of the county board of election commissioners shall serve as a member of the board of canvassers to fill a temporary vacancy on that board.
Not later than 9 a.m. on the Tuesday after each election the county board of canvassers shall open and publicly examine the returns. If returns have not been received from any election district or ward in the county, they shall dispatch a messenger and the person having them shall deliver the returns to the messenger. If, on examination, any of the returns received are so informal or defective that the board cannot intelligently canvass them, they shall dispatch a messenger to deliver the returns back to the municipal board of canvassers with written specifications of the informalities or defects and command them to immediately complete the returns or remedy the defects in the manner required and deliver them to the messenger. Every messenger shall safely keep all returns, show them to no one but the municipal clerk and board of canvassers and deliver them to the county clerk with all possible dispatch. To acquire the necessary full returns and remedy any informalities or defects the county board of canvassers may adjourn not longer than one day at a time nor more than 2 days in all.
Statements and determinations. 7.60(4)(a)
The board of canvassers shall make separate duplicate statements showing the numbers of votes cast for the offices of president and vice president; state officials; U.S. senators and representatives in congress; state legislators; justice; court of appeals judge; circuit judges; district attorneys; and metropolitan sewerage commissioners, if the commissioners are elected under s. 200.09 (11) (am)
. If a municipal judge elected under s. 755.01 (4)
serves a municipality that is located partially within the county and candidates for that judgeship file nomination papers in another county, the board of canvassers shall prepare a duplicate statement showing the numbers of votes cast for that judgeship in that county for transmittal to the other county. For partisan candidates, the statements shall include the political party or principle designation, if any, next to the name of each candidate. The board of canvassers shall also prepare a statement showing the results of any county, technical college district, or statewide referendum. Each statement shall state the total number of votes cast in the county for each office; the names of all persons for whom the votes were cast, as returned; the number of votes cast for each person; and the number of votes cast for and against any question submitted at a referendum. The board of canvassers shall use one copy of each duplicate statement to report to the elections commission, technical college district board, or board of canvassers of any other county and shall file the other statement in the office of the county clerk or board of election commissioners.
The board of canvassers shall then prepare a written determination, in duplicate where necessary, giving the names of the persons elected to any county office and to any municipal judgeship if the judge is elected under s. 755.01 (4)
and candidates for that judgeship file nomination papers in that county. The board of canvassers shall likewise prepare a written determination showing the results of any county referendum. Following any primary election, the board of canvassers shall prepare a statement certifying the names of all persons who have won nomination to any county office or any municipal judgeship, if the judge is elected under s. 755.01 (4)
and candidates for that judgeship file nomination papers in that county. The board of canvassers shall file all statements and determinations in the office of the county clerk or board of election commissioners.
In preparing the statements and determinations, the board of canvassers shall carefully review the tally sheets and inspectors' statement. The board of canvassers may omit the names of individuals whose names do not appear on the ballot and who receive a comparatively small number of votes. The board of canvassers shall designate votes received by such individuals as scattering votes. The board of canvassers shall append to each statement and determination a tabulation of the votes cast at each election district, ward or combination of wards authorized under s. 5.15 (6) (b)
in the county for each office and each individual, whether the votes are canvassed or not, as well as the total canvassed votes cast for each individual and each office, except where scattering votes are designated. If any votes are rejected, the board of canvassers shall specify the reasons therefor.
Each statement and determination issued under pars. (a)
shall be certified as correct and attested to by each canvasser's signature.
Immediately following the canvass, the county clerk shall deliver or transmit to the elections commission a certified copy of each statement of the county board of canvassers for president and vice president, state officials, senators and representatives in congress, state legislators, justice, court of appeals judge, circuit judge, district attorney, and metropolitan sewerage commissioners, if the commissioners are elected under s. 200.09 (11) (am)
. The statement shall record the returns for each office or referendum by ward, unless combined returns are authorized under s. 5.15 (6) (b)
in which case the statement shall record the returns for each group of combined wards. Following primaries the county clerk shall enclose on forms prescribed by the elections commission the names, party or principle designation, if any, and number of votes received by each candidate recorded in the same manner. The county clerk shall deliver or transmit the certified statement to the elections commission no later than 9 days after each primary except the partisan primary, no later than 10 days after the partisan primary and any other election except the general election, and no later than 14 days after the general election. The board of canvassers shall deliver or transmit a certified copy of each statement for any technical college district referendum to the secretary of the technical college district board.
If the board of canvassers becomes aware of a material mistake in the canvass of an election for state or national office or a statewide or technical college district referendum prior to the close of business on the day the elections commission receives returns from the last county board of canvassers with respect to that canvass, the board of canvassers may petition the elections commission to reopen and correct the canvass. The elections commission shall direct the canvass to be reopened and corrected if it determines that the public interest so requires. If the elections commission directs the canvass to be reopened, the board of canvassers shall reconvene and transmit a certified corrected copy of the canvass statement to the elections commission or secretary of the technical college district board.
Certificate of election.
Immediately after expiration of the time allowed to file a petition for a recount the county clerk shall issue a certificate of election to each person who is elected to any county office, except that the county clerk need not wait until expiration of the time allowed to file a petition for a recount if there is no aggrieved party, as defined in s. 9.01 (1) (a) 5.
The certificate notice shall state the amount of the required official bond, if any. When a petition for a recount is filed, the county clerk shall not issue the certificate of election for the office in question until the recount has been completed and the time allowed for filing an appeal has passed, or if appealed until the appeal is decided.
Official canvass record.
After the certificates of election have been prepared under sub. (6)
, the county clerk shall retain one copy of the official canvass for county offices and referenda in his or her office for public inspection.
History: 1971 c. 304
s. 29 (2)
; 1973 c. 334
; 1975 c. 93
; 1977 c. 187
; 1979 c. 221
; 1981 c. 4
; 1983 a. 442
; 1985 a. 89
; 1987 a. 391
; 1989 a. 31
; 1991 a. 316
; 1993 a. 399
; 1999 a. 150
; 1999 a. 182
; 2001 a. 107
; 2005 a. 451
; 2007 a. 1
; 2011 a. 75
; 2015 a. 118
; 2019 a. 182
The canvassing activities conducted by county canvassing boards are meetings of governmental bodies subject to the requirements of the open meetings law. While canvassing boards must provide the public a reasonable opportunity to meaningfully observe their meetings, they may impose reasonable limits on public access to the extent necessary to protect the effective and orderly conduct of the canvass. The same principles of reasonableness govern the public's opportunity to inspect election documents and materials at canvassing board meetings. OAG 5-14
Recording and preserving returns. 7.70(1)(a)(a)
Upon receipt of the certified statements from the county clerks, the commission shall record the election results by counties and file and carefully preserve the statements.
If any county clerk fails or neglects to forward any statements, the commission may require the clerk to do so immediately and if not received by the 8th day after a primary, or by the 11th day after any other election, the commission may dispatch a special messenger to obtain them. Whenever it appears upon the face of any statement that an error has been made in reporting or computing, the commission may return it to the county clerk for correction.
The chairperson of the commission or a designee of the chairperson appointed by the chairperson to canvass a specific election shall publicly canvass the returns and make his or her certifications and determinations on or before the 2nd Tuesday following a spring primary, the 15th day of May following a spring election, the 3rd Wednesday following a partisan primary, the first day of December following a general election, the 2nd Thursday following a special primary, or within 18 days after any special election.
The commission chairperson or the chairperson's designee shall examine the certified statements of the county boards of canvassers. If it appears that any material mistake has been made in the computation of votes, or any county board of canvassers failed to canvass the votes or omitted votes from any ward or election district in the county, the commission chairperson or the chairperson's designee may dispatch a messenger to the county clerk with written instructions to certify the facts concerning the mistake or the reason why the votes were not canvassed. A clerk to whom such instructions are delivered shall immediately make a true and full answer, sign it, affix the county seal and deliver it to the messenger. The messenger shall deliver it with all possible dispatch to the commission.
The chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee shall conclude the state canvass within 10 days after its commencement.
When the certified statements and returns are received, the chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee shall proceed to examine and make a statement of the total number of votes cast at any election for the offices involved in the election for president and vice president; a statement for each of the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, if a primary, and a joint statement for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, if a general election; a statement for each of the offices of secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, and state superintendent; for U.S. senator; representative in congress for each congressional district; the state legislature; justice; court of appeals judge; circuit judge; district attorney; metropolitan sewerage commission, if the commissioners are elected under s. 200.09 (11) (am)
; and for any referenda questions submitted by the legislature.
The chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee shall make a special statement to the commission as soon as possible after the canvass of the general election certifying the name of each political party which receives at least one percent of the vote cast in such election for any statewide office.
The statements shall show the persons' names receiving votes, and any referenda questions; the whole number of votes given to each; and an individual listing by the districts or counties in which they were given. The names of persons not regularly nominated who received only a comparatively small number of votes may be omitted and their votes designated as scattering votes.
Following each primary election, the chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee shall prepare a statement certifying the results of the primary, which shall indicate the names of the persons who have won nomination to any state or national office. Following each other election, the chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee shall prepare a statement certifying the results of the election and shall attach to the statement a certificate of determination which shall indicate the names of persons who have been elected to any state or national office. The chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee shall likewise prepare a statement and certificate for any statewide referendum. The chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee shall deliver each statement and determination to the commission.
Whenever a referendum question submitted to a vote of the people is approved, the commission shall record it and the secretary of state shall have the record bound in the volume containing the original enrolled laws passed at the next succeeding session of the legislature and have the record published with the laws thereof. Whenever a constitutional amendment or other statewide validating or ratifying referendum question which is approved by the people does not expressly state the date of effectiveness, it shall become effective at the time the chairperson of the commission or the chairperson's designee certifies that the amendment or referendum question is approved.
The commission chairperson or the chairperson's designee shall canvass only regular returns made by the county board of canvassers and shall not count or canvass any additional or supplemental returns or statements made by the county board or any other board or person. The commission chairperson or the chairperson's designee shall not count or canvass any statement or return which has been made by the county board of canvassers at any other time than that provided in s. 7.60
. This provision does not apply to any return made subsequent to a recount under s. 9.01
, when the return is accepted in lieu of any prior return from the same county for the same office; or to a statement given to the commission chairperson or chairperson's designee or a messenger sent by the chairperson or designee to obtain a correction.
Certificates of election. 7.70(5)(a)(a)
The commission shall record in its office each certified statement and determination made by the commission chairperson or the chairperson's designee. Immediately after the expiration of the time allowed to file a petition for recount, the commission shall make and transmit to each person declared elected a certificate of election under the seal of the commission, except that the commission need not wait until expiration of the time allowed to file a petition for recount if there is no aggrieved party, as defined in s. 9.01 (1) (a) 5.
It shall also prepare similar certificates, attested by the commission administrator, addressed to the U.S. house of representatives, stating the names of those persons elected as representatives to the congress from this state. In the case of U.S. senators, the commission shall prepare a certificate of election for the governor's signature, and the governor shall sign and affix the great seal of the state and transmit the certificate to the president of the U.S. senate. The certificate shall be countersigned by the secretary of state. If a person elected was elected to fill a vacancy, the certificate shall so indicate. When a valid petition for recount is filed, the commission chairperson or the chairperson's designee may not certify a nomination, and the governor or commission may not issue a certificate of election until the recount has been completed and the time allowed for filing an appeal has passed, or if appealed until the appeal is decided.
For presidential electors, the commission shall prepare a certificate showing the determination of the results of the canvass and the names of the persons elected, and the governor shall sign, affix the great seal of the state, and transmit the certificate by registered mail to the U.S. administrator of general services. The governor shall also prepare 6 duplicate originals of such certificate and deliver them to one of the presidential electors on or before the first Monday after the 2nd Wednesday in December.
History: 1971 c. 304
s. 29 (2)
; 1973 c. 334
; 1975 c. 93
; 1977 c. 107
; 1979 c. 221
; 1983 a. 484
; 1985 a. 89
; 1987 a. 391
; 1989 a. 31
; 1995 a. 16
; 1997 a. 27
; 1999 a. 150
; 1999 a. 182
; 2005 a. 451
; 2007 a. 1
; 2011 a. 32
; 2015 a. 118
, 266 (10)
; 2019 a. 182
Unless a constitutional amendment provides otherwise, it takes effect upon the certification of a statewide canvass of the votes as provided in sub. (3) (h). The legislature has the authority under article XII, section 1
, of the Wisconsin Constitution to adopt reasonable election laws to provide that state constitutional amendments are effective after canvass and certification. State v. Gonzales, 2002 WI 59
, 253 Wis. 2d 134
, 645 N.W.2d 264
Although the GAB chairperson or his or her designee is expressly required to “publicly canvass the returns" under sub. (3) (a), those canvassing activities are not subject to the separate requirements of the open meetings law. OAG 5-14
Presidential electors meeting. 7.75(1)(1)
The electors for president and vice president shall meet at the state capitol following the presidential election at 12:00 noon the first Monday after the 2nd Wednesday in December. If there is a vacancy in the office of an elector due to death, refusal to act, failure to attend or other cause, the electors present shall immediately proceed to fill by ballot, by a plurality of votes, the electoral college vacancy. When all electors are present, or the vacancies filled, they shall perform their required duties under the constitution and laws of the United States.
The presidential electors, when convened, shall vote by ballot for that person for president and that person for vice president who are, respectively, the candidates of the political party which nominated them under s. 8.18
, the candidates whose names appeared on the nomination papers filed under s. 8.20
, or the candidate or candidates who filed their names under s. 8.185 (2)
, except that at least one of the persons for whom the electors vote may not be an inhabitant of this state. A presidential elector is not required to vote for a candidate who is deceased at the time of the meeting.
History: 1979 c. 246
Notice of election.
Personal service or service by first class mail of a certificate of election is official notification for all legal purposes to any person of his or her election to office.
History: 1977 c. 427