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Today is deadline to vote absentee

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Ryan Broege
June 1, 2012
— Thousands of Wisconsin residents will avoid the polls Tuesday and instead cast absentee ballots in the gubernatorial recall election.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot in the mail has passed, but voters still can cast an absentee ballot in person until 5 p.m. today at a municipal clerk's office. In-person absentee ballots must be cast immediately at the clerk's office.


The recall election is expected to bring a record turnout for a Wisconsin gubernatorial race. The state Government Accountability Board said local officials issued just over 130,000 absentee ballots by noon May 29, a full week before polls open.


Janesville City Clerk Jean Wulf said absentee ballots are more expensive to tally than regular ballots. Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler estimated it costs about $4 to tally an absentee ballot, compared to 50 cents for a ballot cast at a polling place on Election Day.


"If people are voting absentee not out of necessity but for convenience, I think that's something they should know," Stottler said.


Absentee ballots also can present logistical problems.


Janesville's voting machines recognize votes by the carbon markings left by a familiar No. 2 pencil. If a voter marks a ballot with a pen or marker, the ballot is remade by clerk staff on a new ballot with a pencil. The original ballot is kept for records in the event of a recall.


Debbie Gross, 1803 Rockport Road, Janesville, marked her ballot with a Sharpie marker before noticing the directive to use a pencil.


"I went, 'Wait a minute, a No. 2 pencil doesn't make sense. I'm not going to trust that,'" Gross said.


She has been voting absentee for years, she said, and never saw the order to use a No. 2 pencil. Wulf said the order always has appeared on the ballot, but it was highlighted and displayed more prominently for the first time in this election.


Gross called the state Government Accountability Board and was put in touch with City Hall. The city issued her another absentee ballot, along with a carbon marking pen from the city's polls.


Wulf said there have not been issues with the remake process since the machines were purchased 16 years ago.


ABSENTEE BALLOT DEADLINE

The deadline has passed to request an absentee ballot in the mail.


Janesville voters can cast absentee ballots in person before 5 p.m. today at the Janesville City Clerk's Office on the main floor of 18 N. Jackson St., Janesville.


Those applying for an absentee ballot at the clerk's office must vote immediately. No ballots may be taken from the office.


Ballots cast in Janesville must be marked with a No. 2 pencil to be counted. City ballot-counting machines recognize votes by the carbon markings left by a pencil.


Once completed, mailed absentee ballots must be returned in the sealed certification envelope and postmarked before Election Day.



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