Elections panel agrees to make overseas ballot changes

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has agreed to lift overseas ballot restrictions to avoid a legal battle.

The U.S. Department of Justice warned earlier this month that it’s preparing to sue because Wisconsin law doesn’t let temporary overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically or to submit downloadable back-up ballots in case they don’t have time to return an official ballot.

Federal law allows all overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically and submit back-up ballots. Assembly Republicans passed a bill that would have aligned Wisconsin’s statutes with the federal law but the measure died in April after Senate Republicans added language limiting special legislative elections.

The commission agreed Thursday to enter a consent decree with U.S. DOJ requiring the state to let temporary overseas voters get ballots electronically and use back-up ballots.