Wisconsin Voter FAQs

Absentee voting

Absentee ballot, vote by mail, early voting—it’s all the same

What is an absentee ballot?

An absentee ballot is the printed ballot marked by an absent voter, sealed in a special envelope, and given or mailed to the municipal clerk. The municipal clerk ensures that each absentee ballot that is returned in a timely manner gets to the right polling place on election day. If accepted, the absentee ballot is counted as if the voter had cast the ballot in person.

Election officials urge voters to submit ballots as soon as possible.

Who can request and receive an absentee ballot?

Most registered Wisconsin voters can vote absentee by mail. A qualified voter is:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Has resided in their voting district for at least 28 days

Military and overseas voters

Military and permanent overseas voters have special rules and additional options for voting. If you are a military or overseas voter, you are eligible to receive your absentee ballot electronically, including online through MyVote Wisconsin.

How does a voter request an absentee ballot?

Request your absentee ballot from the municipal clerk in writing as soon as possible. The practical deadline for mailing completed ballots is Oct. 27. After the 27th, the Wisconsin Elections Commission recommends using alternative methods to return ballots.

Who qualifies as a witness on my absentee ballot?

All absentee voters must obtain a witness signature and address on the absentee certificate envelope.

  • A witness must be a U.S. Citizen who is 18 years or older. They can be a neighbor, spouse, or family member of the voter.
  • If a voter is struggling to get a witness, the voter may ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to witness their ballot through a window, from a distance, or on video chat. Just be sure to have your witness sign and write their address on the return envelope.
  • A voter can also ask a store clerk, a mail carrier, or even someone at a drive-through.
  • Candidates on the ballot cannot serve as witnesses.

Make your vote count by following the ballot instructions. Your ballot will NOT be counted if missing signatures or addresses.

  • Use blue or black pen to complete your ballot.
  • Review your name and address on the return envelope.
  • Put your ballot in the return envelope. (Insert only one ballot per envelope.)
  • Sign and date the certificate on the return envelope.
  • Have your witness sign and write their complete address on the return envelope. Ballot will not be counted if missing any part of the address (house number, street name, municipality).
  • Seal your ballot and return it to your clerk as soon as possible.

 

5 ways to return absentee ballots

Absentee ballots must be received by Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 before 8 p.m. Return your ballot as soon as possible.

(Nov. 9 date sourced from PBS Wisconsin report: Judge Rules Ballots Must Be Accepted After Election Day)

In-person absentee voting

Oct. 20, 2020 is the first day that municipal clerks may allow voters to bring ballots directly to their office or a satellite location. Bring your photo ID when casting your absentee ballot in person at your municipal clerk’s office. Check with your clerk for start dates, end dates, and office hours.

Drop boxes

Depending on your municipality, voters can return absentee ballots to secured drop boxes. Check with your municipal clerk to find locations in your community.

U.S. Postal Service

The Wisconsin Election Commission urges voters to mail their ballots as soon as possible in order to be counted. After Oct. 27, the WEC recommends voters use drop boxes and in-person absentee voting. See WEC’s full list of Nov. 2020 voting deadlines.

Polling place on Election Day

Most voters may also return their ballot to their polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020), but there are some exceptions. See central count municipalities below. Find your polling place here.

Central count municipalities on Election Day

There are 35 municipalities including Milwaukee and Green Bay that count absentee ballots at a central location on Election Day. If you live in one of the 35 central count municipalities, your ballot will instruct you where to return your ballot instead of the polling place. Check with your municipal clerk for more information.

Track absentee ballots

Track your ballot on your My Voter Info page

Intelligent mail barcodes on ballot envelopes

Many of Wisconsin’s 1,850 city, village and town clerks will be using mailing labels that have a USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) to send ballots to their absentee voters. IMBs allow voters and clerks to track where a ballot is in the postal system as it travels from the clerk’s office to the voter’s home and back to the clerk’s office, just like they track packages from online retailers.

Your voter profile page tracks your ballot in six stages:

  1. Absentee request submitted
  2. Absentee request approved
  3. Preparing your absentee ballot
  4. Absentee ballot sent
  5. Absentee Ballot anticipated delivery
  6. Completed absentee ballot received

How do I know that my vote was counted?

Go to your My Voter Info page and scroll down to see your voting activity. The page displays up to 10 years of voting history with the most recent elections listed first. Click on the plus sign next to the election date you want to review. The page expands to reveal your voter participation, the voting method, polling place, and municipality.

What happens to ballots after an election?

Municipalities keep ballots for 22 months after elections.

Correct your absentee ballot

Vote early to give municipal clerks more time to catch errors

Request a new ballot

If you need a new ballot, contact your municipal clerk as soon as possible. If there’s enough time, your clerk can cancel your original ballot and give you a new one. Depending on how close you are to Oct. 29—the legal deadline for requesting absentee ballots by mail—you might need to get your new ballot in person.

Clerks will contact voters re. incomplete ballots—if there’s enough time

When a ballot is returned missing signatures or the witness address, the clerk will try to find the missing information from outside sources or contact the voter.

Practical  deadline

Return your ballot as soon as possible to give your municipal clerk enough time to correct errors. The Wisconsin Elections Commission calls Oct. 27  the practical deadline for voters to mail their mail absentee ballots to their municipal clerk’s office. After this date, the WEC recommends other options for returning the ballot.

What happens to late ballots?

If ballots arrive late or are missing required information so they are not counted, there will be a log entry on the inspector’s statement for the voter’s polling place. However, no voter participation will be recorded.

When are the elections?

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Bring it Wisconsin provides a list of upcoming elections.

Find your voting profile

MyVote Wisconsin is your official centralized resource

MyVote Wisconsin is managed by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Also available in Spanish. Information includes:

  • My voter info (once you’re registered)
  • Find my polling place
  • What’s on my ballot?
  • Update my name or address
  • Register to vote
  • Request absentee ballot
  • Find my clerk
  • My elected officials
  • Election dates

Who are my legislators?

Enter your address in the search field (upper right-hand corner) on the Wisconsin state Legislature’s interactive map to find your representatives.

Find a complete list of your elected officials at MyVote Wisconsin, from the U.S. President to your local school board members.

Resources for voters with disabilities

Know your rights

The Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition (WDVC) is a non-partisan effort to help ensure full participation in the entire electoral process of voters with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote, and accessing polling places.

Visit the Wisconsin Elections Commission site for more information and videos about your voting rights.

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) Hotline: 1-844-347-8683

Indefinitely confined voters

Can’t make it to the polls due to age, hospitalization or disability? You can become a permanent absentee voter by requesting an absentee ballot for all elections. Being indefinitely confined does not require permanent or total inability to travel outside of the residence.

Both printed and online absentee ballot requests allow voters to certify they are indefinitely confined voters. (EL-121 Absentee Ballot Request also available in Spanish and Hmong.)

Register to vote

Get registered or confirm that your registration is up to date as soon as possible. Deadlines depend on registration method.

What are the qualifications to vote in Wisconsin?

How do I register to vote?

Check to see if you’re already registered. Enter your name and birthdate on MyVote Wisconsin to see your status. You can also check with your municipal clerk. Your registration page also shows the address of your polling place.

If you’re not registered, do any of the following to register to vote. (Oct. 21 deadline sourced from PBS Wisconsin report: Judge Rules Ballots Must Be Accepted After Election Day)

What do I need to include with my registration?

  • Identification such as a Wisconsin Driver License, state ID number or the last four digits of your SSN.
  • Proof of residence when you register to vote. There are many types of proof of residence documents include Wisconsin Driver License, state ID, or utility bill.

Photo ID for voting

Wisconsin requires an acceptable photo ID to vote.

Get the latest instructions and info on photo ID requirements to vote in Wisconsin. Bring your photo ID when voting in person at the polls or at the municipal clerk’s office. (Voting via absentee ballot at the clerk’s office is a form of voting in person.)

If you don’t have an acceptable photo ID, learn how to get a free state ID.

Important points:

  • Your photo ID does not need to show a current address. Election officials will only be looking at the type of ID presented, the name and photograph on the ID, and the expiration date of the ID.
  • Your Wisconsin ID or Wisconsin driver license does not need to comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005 to vote.
  • Expiration date requirements vary based on the photo ID.
  • Your photo ID name does not have to match your poll registration exactly (e.g. “Johnny” vs. “John”).

College students and photo IDs

Common Cause Wisconsin outlines the three things students must do to vote in Wisconsin. Check to see if your college or university student ID is on the list of compliant to use as photo IDs to vote.

Persons with criminal convictions

Find voting rights for persons with criminal convictions at the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the League of Women Voters-Wisconsin.