Little Chute man receives absentee envelope without ballot

Village clerk deactivates previous ballot to eliminate possibility of voter fraud
Posted at 7:07 PM, Sep 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-26 20:07:10-04

LITTLE CHUTE, Wis. (NBC 26) -- A Little Chute voter says he received his absentee ballot without the actual ballot inside on Wednesday.

Mason Meulemans, 30, of Little Chute, went to check his mail early Wednesday morning after a night shift at work.

"The mailbox was pretty full, I hadn't checked it in about four to five days," Meulemans explained. "Find my absentee and my wife's absentee ballot and immediately noticed there was a weight difference. I checked the absentee and I can see that the envelope is cracked open and my ballot is missing."

All that was left of Meulemans' ballot was the corresponding return envelope inside.

Meulemans went to retrace his steps, just to make sure what he was seeing was correct.

"Immediately went back down to the mailbox, just to make sure that it didn't fall out in to the mailbox or something like that. No indication that it did," Meulemans said. "Checking through the other mail, making sure its not hidden in there, and nope. The ballot was not to be found."

Above all else, the farmer said he was confused.

"You know, I'm not going off the deep end with conspiracies theories and stuff like that, but I know there's a lot of politicization of absentee ballots right now, so of course the mind goes there," Meulemans said, although he ultimately hopes nobody took his ballot with the intent to commit voter fraud. "So really, overall more confused than anything."

Meulemans says he contacted the village clerk that afternoon, and wants voters to hold the system accountable in order for voting by mail to remain safe and accurate. He also believes in the power of sharing these experiences "just in case you are not an isolated incident."

"Contact the village clerk, and share your story and what your interaction was like with he or she," Meulemans said. "Mine happened to be pretty good."

Village Clerk Laurie Decker provided this written statement to NBC 26 regarding this specific incident:

I received a voicemail on Wednesday afternoon from Mr. Meulemans stating that he had received his absentee ballot; however the envelope had been ripped open and the ballot was missing and only the instructions and return envelope were inside. I assured him that I would deactivate/cancel that ballot and send him out a new ballot right away with new tracking information and not to worry because if someone tried to replicate the envelope and return that ballot the computer system would not recognize it and would reject it as not being valid. If anyone has a similar experience they should immediately contact their clerk.

Meulemans further explained that to deactivate a ballot in Wisconsin, clerks specifically isolate a six digit number on your form. Upon coding that specific number as an inactive ballot within their system, it is impossible for anyone to try and vote with the tampered ballot. If the ballot was ever fraudulently submitted, it would be unable to be counted.

Decker said that she listened to Meulemans' voicemail on Wednesday three consecutive times to make sure she was understanding the situation correctly. Upon confirmation, she acted swiftly, feeling the spotlight is on Wisconsin this election cycle more than ever before.