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Revised Important Information about SVRS and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act

Posted in
Priority: 
High Priority
Date: 
July 12, 2010
To: 
Wisconsin County Clerks
To: 
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
To: 
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
To: 
Milwaukee County Election Commission
From: 
Nathaniel E. Robinsion, Elections Division Administrator
AttachmentSize
MOVE Act SVRS Memo w Clarification ah.doc176.5 KB

Background

This memo covers the changes that will be made to the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS), and the new procedures counties and municipalities must follow to track absentee ballots in SVRS.  Every SVRS user must use one of the procedures described below to begin tracking military and overseas absentee ballots by August 4, 2010, the deadline for sending state write-in ballots for the November 2010 election.

This is a follow-up to the June 3, 2010 communication to all clerks regarding the implementation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.  That memo summarized the changes required by MOVE for military and overseas absentee voting in federal elections. The new rules will be effective for the November 2010 election, and include a requirement that municipalities be able to receive absentee requests and send absentee ballots electronically.  MOVE also requires that military and overseas voters must have a free access system to find out the status of their absentee ballots. 

The G.A.B. has determined that the required free access system will be the Voter Public Access website (VPA), at http://vpa.wi.gov.  VPA will pull absentee data directly from SVRS, so it is available online. 

Summary of Absentee Modules in SVRS

There will be two methods available to track absentee ballots in SVRS:

Full Absentee – This is the absentee module in SVRS currently in use by many municipalities.

  1. Full Absentee is managed at the municipal level.
  2. Full Absentee tracks all forms of absentee ballots, not just military and overseas.  A single application can be entered for multiple elections.
  3. Full Absentee will print absentee labels for valid voters, but will not produce labels if the voter has moved, or has been marked as a felon or deceased.
  4. Use of Full Absentee allows the user to print the Absentee Ballot Log required at every polling place on Election Day.
  5. Finally, Full Absentee will allow every absentee voter in the municipality to track the status of their ballot using the VPA web site.

 Absentee Lite – This is a new absentee module being added to SVRS, designed primarily for county users (Providers) who enter data into SVRS for smaller municipalities (Reliers).

  1. Absentee Lite is very basic and easy to use. It allows users to enter absentee tracking information for multiple municipalities at the county level.
  2. Absentee Lite is meant to track only military and overseas voters, and works for a single election only, so ballots must be re-entered for each new election.
  3. Absentee Lite will verify if the voter is valid once the ballot record is entered, the ballot may have already been mailed.
  4. Absentee Lite will not allow printing of the official Absentee Ballot Log.
  5. Absentee Lite will not allow regular absentee voters to track their ballot status online, only military and overseas voters. 

How your jurisdiction will be affected by the MOVE requirement to track absentee ballots:

After discussion with municipal and county clerks, G.A.B. has come up with the following requirements for municipalities to ensure compliance with the MOVE Act.  There are three groups of affected municipalities:

  1. Municipalities that use SVRS themselves (Self-Providers) and already use the Full Absentee module will have to make only minimal changes.  The only new requirement will be that they track state write-in ballots through SVRS.  Changes to the software that allow this will be made in July, and training will be made available before the state write-in ballots must be issued on August 4th.
  2. Municipalities that use SVRS themselves (Self –Providers) and do not use SVRS to track absentees may choose to use Absentee Lite or Full Absentee for the November 2010 election.  However, all Self-Providers must begin using the Full Absentee module by November 23, 2011, the deadline for sending state write-in ballots to military and overseas voters for the February 2012 Presidential Primary.  County Providers will not be required to use Full Absentee. If municipalities choose to use Absentee Lite instead of Full Absentee, they will use it to track military and overseas absentee ballots only.
  3. Municipalities that rely on their County or another Municipality to provide SVRS Services (Reliers) will also be able to rely on their Provider to track military and overseas absentee ballots only through Absentee Lite.  Reliers should work with their Providers on procedures to communicate information on when military and overseas ballots have been sent and received.  Providers are assisting Reliers to comply with the MOVE Act, but ultimately it is the Relier’s responsibility to make sure the necessary information gets communicated to their Provider.

Training for Absentee Lite will be made available online and should require less than one hour.  Training for Full Absentee requires in-person attendance at a four-hour SVRS application training class.  Further information about training materials and opportunities will be coming soon.

Clarification on the August 4th deadline:  Wisconsin statute §7.15(1)(cs) says that ballots must be sent no later than 90 days before the election (by August 4), or as soon as contests are known, whichever is later.  For November 2010, the 90 day deadline applies.  The G.A.B. elections calendar says the 90th day before the election is the “first day” to send write-in ballots, but it is also the last day to send ballots to any voters who have a military or overseas absentee request on file.  As additional absentee requests come in, you should send a write-in ballot within 24 hours, until official ballots become available.

If you have questions, please contact the G.A.B. Help Desk at GABHelpDesk@wi.gov, or 608-261-2028. Questions may also be addressed to David Buerger, our Lead Elections Specialist for MOVE at David.Buerger@wi.gov, or at (608) 267-0951.  Thank you.

A printable copy of this memorandum is attached below.