Wisconsin Election Commission: Indefinitely confined voters can return to normal, keep voter confined status


People who are out and about, or otherwise back to normal can still qualify as indefinitely confined voters in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Thursday sent a letter to local election clerks explaining the process to clean-up their indefinitely confined voter rolls.

“Many clerks have asked if they can deactivate indefinitely confined absentee requests if they have reliable information that the voter is no longer indefinitely confined. The Wisconsin Elections Commission recommends getting something in writing from the voter that they are no longer indefinitely confined,” WEC Administrator Meagan Wolf wrote in the letter. “Seeing a voter in person out in public does not equate to reliable information, as many individuals may have self-identified as indefinitely confined due to invisible or intermittent illnesses or disabilities.”

Wisconsin law is clear, voters qualify as indefinitely confined because of “age, illness, infirmity, or disability.”

Claiming to be indefinitely confined allows voters, among other things, to forgo Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

The Elections Commission told clerks starting with the April, 2020, election that voters could request an indefinitely confined ballot because of “ health concerns due to COVID-19.”

Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, told The Center Square on Friday the indefinitely confined status was supposed to be limited to people who are truly homebound.

“Indefinitely was supposed to be for people who are disabled, who don’t drive, or for people who don’t have a birth certificate,” Brandtjen said.

Indefinitely confined ballots are technically considered absentee ballots in Wisconsin. The Elections Commissions’ own reports show a massive surge in absentee ballots last year.

The spring 2019 election saw just over 170,000 absentee ballot requests. The spring 2020 election saw over 550,000 requested. That number jumped to over 1.4 million absentee ballot requests for the November election.

WEC said nearly a quarter-million voters returned an indefinitely confined ballot in November.

“Of the 216,490 absentee voters who claimed status of indefinitely confined, 79.6% have provided an acceptable photo ID to receive a ballot since 2016,” Wolfe said back in November.

That means 20% of indefinitely confined voters didn’t show valid voter ID.

“Indefinitely confined should not be an option in the state of Wisconsin,” Brandtjen said.

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