Planning already is underway to ensure a safe and secure voting process plays out in November as health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic still linger.
Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said she expects clerks around the county to need additional Election Day poll workers due to the anticipated high number of absentee ballots.
In April, many poll workers across the county stepped back from their roles for various safety reasons related to the pandemic, but younger workers stepped up along with Wisconsin National Guard members to fill those gaps.
“The upcoming general election has so much work that goes into it,” Tollefson said. “We’re expecting that some municipalities may need to double their number of poll workers. There’s definitely going to be a need for more people, especially since we are required by law to count absentee ballots on Election Day.”
Tollefson said an emphasis will be on ensuring both Beloit and Janesville, the county’s two largest municipalities, have the staff needed on Election Day. That could mean reaching out to qualified high school and college students to fill in for workers who may not feel comfortable working due to the virus.
“Rock County always does really well in stepping up for what’s needed for elections,” Tollefson said. “Seeing the younger generation of poll workers interact with experienced workers is really special to see.”
Next month, the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) will send out instructions to Wisconsin residents on how to apply for an absentee ballot. Also new from the April election, voters can track their absentee ballots progress through the MyVote website.
In November of 2016, 19,009 absentee ballots were counted in Rock County, WEC data shows.
On Election Day, Tollefson’s office will serve as the central nervous system for Rock County clerks needing assistance for any voting-related issues. All absentee ballots are counted by the respective Rock County municipality the ballot originated from, with results being securely transmitted to Tollefson’s office after polls close.
The last day to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 29. The last day to vote in-person absentee is Oct. 30 at 5 p.m.
To register as a poll worker, visit beloitwi.gov/elections and select “2020-2021 Election Official Registration Packet” at the bottom of the page. Those who wish to have a packet mailed by post or sent via email may do so by calling the clerk’s office at 608-364-6680. Residents can also go to myvote.wi.gov and select “Become a Poll Worker” to be directed to their local clerk’s office.