Absentee ballots critical to both parties' efforts to win Wisconsin

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes in 2016. In Wisconsin's 2020 spring primary, 23,196 absentee ballots were rejected because they weren't filled out correctly.

Nearly one million absentee ballots have been requested as of Sept. 7 so far for the November election, and ballots won't get mailed out until Sept. 17. Getting those ballots returned correctly will be critical to both parties.

"I think its going to be a razor thin margin, I think its going to be a very close race," said Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt.

Hitt said the GOP will be doing everything it can to make sure every absentee vote counts.

"We'll also be doing our how-to videos for folks who want to vote absentee, but maybe haven't in the past, make sure they know how to do it," said Hitt.

Wisconsin elections officials rejected 23,196 ballots in April. If that rejection rate holds, and the rate of absentee ballots stays the same, the Associated Press said nearly 300,000 ballots across six battleground states including Wisconsin could be rejected this cycle.

"There are more people, as we all know, requesting absentee ballots and there are some people that just haven't done it before," said Hitt.

Democrats are providing similar voter education, posting detailed instruction on the state party website. CBS 58's requests for an interview on the topic were not returned Sept. 7.

Elections offices are also taking steps to help voters return their ballots correctly.

"Offering voter assistance at every Milwaukee Public Library from now through the close of voter registration on Oct. 14," said Milwaukee Elections Commission Director Claire Woodall-Vogg.

 She said the commission is awarding a $250,000 contract to a communications firm to develop messages to help voters.

"Really combat the large amount of misinformation out there," said Woodall-Vogg.

The elections commission is also paying the firm to help it recruit election workers. They'll be needed to process absentee ballots and staff polling locations.

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