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VIDEO | Voter confusion surrounding rules about absentee ballot submission

West Bend, WI – Friday, November 4, 2022 was the final day for in-person absentee voting, ahead of the Tuesday, November 8, 2022, General Election. It was around 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon when Doug Gonring spoke with someone in the clerk’s office in the City of West Bend, Wi and was told he could not drop off his ailing aunt’s absentee ballot.
Gonring said he did not know who he spoke to but double-checked with Washington County Clerk Ashley Reichert and Town of Kewaskum Clerk Ann Trautner; both assured Gonring he could turn the ballot in.

Gonring went to West Bend’s City Hall and city clerk Lizbet Santana said he would have to fill out forms and answer some questions.

Gonring then questioned why he was told “no” that he could not drop off his ailing aunt’s ballot.

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Santana said she wasn’t there at the time of the call.


Gonring went on to explain what he was told on the phone. “I asked her to give me the reasons why I could not do that, and she said because of the election laws of 2020 that they changed things and people who are not the person, and my aunt would have had to have her ID…  to turn this in herself,” said Gonring. “I happened to call Ashley (Reichert the Washington Co. clerk) and she said the rules as of 20 days ago states people can do it (submit a ballot) for disabled people.”

It was September 7, 2022, when the Wisconsin Election Commission posted Guidance on Absentee Ballot Return Options Under the Federal Voting Rights Act.”

As Gonring was at the clerk’s desk waiting to sign some papers…. another man was turned away from dropping off his wife’s absentee ballot. The woman from the clerk’s, however, did not ask why the man’s wife needed voting assistance before turning him away.

District 2 alderman Mark Allen stood by during the entire 40-minute process. He said the “rules have changed several times” and “there are different circumstances for turning in someone’s absentee ballot.” Questioned whether the poll workers went through training and would be up to speed on the rules knowing the election dates are set in stone…  Allen said he would ask.

After the 40-minute process to submit his aunt’s ballot was over, Gonring said, “I don’t know why these rules aren’t uniform that every clerk is running it the same way.”

Questioned whether he was confused, Gonring said, “Yeah I was. I mean you get one answer from two people, and you get a different one from here and pretty soon I was thinking do I have to one day rush this (mail it) to get through.”

Gonring signed the form, submitted the ballot and left, however he did not have a copy of the form he signed.

Washington County Clerk Ashley Reichert weighed in on the situation. “An individual who claims disability or is indefinitely confined can appoint a person to return their absentee ballot for them,” she said. “It is extremely important that any individual who has requested an absentee ballot or has an absentee ballot at home fill out their certificate envelope fully and make sure they return it to their municipal clerk’s office or polling location on Election Day by the 8 p.m. close of polls.”


Randy Marquardt, vice-chairman of the Washington County Republican Party, watched the videos. “It is so disappointing to me that our City Clerk seemed not to be prepared for this.  Following the Teigen court decision, and subsequent Carey clarifying opinion, Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) quickly (9/7/22) provided guidance to clerks for this exact situation – suggesting 3 simple questions to be asked when a person, other than the voter, was dropping off an absentee ballot,” he said. “I sincerely hope we have not denied legitimate voters access due to a lack of understanding of current law.”
A call was placed to the Democratic Party of Washington County. The call was not returned by publication of this article. Information will be added when it becomes available.
Several questions were asked of the West Bend clerk regarding whether any other people dropping off an absentee ballot were turned away and whether anyone else called to request turning in an absentee ballot for someone ill/confined and were denied.  Answers to these questions will be posted when information becomes available.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
This is a working story and more information will be posted as details become available.

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