Counting absentee ballots early is a good idea

October 13, 2020 4:07 pm
An absentee ballots for the April 7 election. (Photo by Henry Redman)

An absentee ballots for the April 7 election. (Photo by Henry Redman)

On Tuesday, Sen. Chris Larson, along with 22 other Wisconsin legislators, sent a letter to the Republican leaders urging them to meet in extraordinary session to pass a law that would allow clerks to start counting absentee ballots before Election Day.

This is an eminently good idea. Wisconsin is one of only two swing states (the other is Pennsylvania) not to allow early counting of absentee ballots. Our current law says they can only start to be counted at 7:00 a.m. on Election Day.

As Sen. Larson and the other legislators noted in their letter to Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald, clerks across Wisconsin have already received 683,233 ballots as of Oct. 12.

“Our local clerks need extra time to process these ballots if we are to have any hope of reporting results within 24 hours of poll closing at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3,” the letter states.

Larson’s letter also acknowledged the concern that people may get suspicious if the counting process is drawn out.

“The longer the count takes, the more potential for mistrust in results to be fomented by those who mean harm to our democracy,” the letter states.

It didn’t mention Donald Trump’s name.

But it didn’t have to.


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Matt Rothschild
Matt Rothschild

Prior to joining the Democracy Campaign at the start of 2015, Matt worked at The Progressive magazine for 32 years. For most of those, he was the editor and publisher of The Progressive.