Did the candidate you voted for drop out? Here's how to request a new ballot

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Did you already vote early and realize your preferred candidate dropped out of the race? Don't worry, you still have time to request a new ballot.

This week, two Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Tom Nelson and Alex Lasry suspended their campaigns. Earlier this month, Republican candidate Kevin Nicholson also put an end to his bid for governor.

Election officials say the recent candidate withdrawals have resulted in more voters asking about how they can "spoil" their absentee ballot and request a new one.

"There seems to be quite a bit of interest in this and we're going to see some sort of an uptick," said Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson.

Absentee voters can request to spoil their absentee ballot and have another ballot issued as long as the appropriate deadline to request the new absentee ballot has not passed.

How to spoil your absentee ballot:

You must submit in writing or via email a request to spoil your ballot with your local clerk's office.

For the City of Milwaukee, voters can request that their ballot be spoiled by emailing absenteeballot@milwaukee.gov, calling 414-286-VOTE (8683), or going to an in-person absentee (early) voting site by the deadline listed below.

Do I need a reason to spoil my ballot?

No. You can request a new ballot for any reason. For example, you changed your mind, your preferred candidate dropped out or you made a mistake while filling it out.

What happens after I make a request?

Election officials mark your previous absentee ballot enveloped to track whether it's the second or third. It's one of many safeguards clerks have in place to make sure your ballot is counted only once.

How many ballots can I spoil?

The voter can submit a request twice to spoil their ballot. The third ballot will then be counted.

What is the deadline to spoil an absentee ballot?

If you voted early by mail, voters have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 4.

Those who voted early in-person may appear at their clerk’s office until the end of in-person absentee voting hours.

For indefinitely confined absentee voters who cast by mail or in-person, the deadline is Friday, August 5.

Voters can also request to have their returned absentee ballot spoiled so they can vote in person, but they have to do so by the deadlines outlined above.

Can people who requested absentee ballots by mail change their minds and vote in-person
instead?

Yes. Voters who have already returned an absentee ballot by mail may request in writing that their returned absentee ballot be spoiled so they can vote a new one.

Can voters appear at the polls on Election Day and spoil their ballot then?

No.

If a voter who was sent an absentee ballot but hasn’t returned it yet wants to vote in person instead, can they do that?

Yes, any voter who has been issued an absentee ballot and has not returned it is still eligible to vote in person on Election Day. The voter will be asked if they have returned their ballot and if they have not, they will be issued a ballot at their polling place.

If a voter who was sent an absentee ballot but hasn’t returned it yet wants to vote in person instead, does the ballot need to be spoiled?

No. If you have not returned your absentee ballot and decide you want to vote absentee in person in your clerk’s office or at the polls, you can just destroy it yourself. There is no need to bring it with you to the clerk’s office or the polling place.

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