Registering to Vote
If you need assistance completing a voter registration application, anyone can help you with that form. You can find the voter registration application on the Government Accountability Board website. After completing the registration application, the assistor must then sign the form in the appropriate box and provide the additional required information. Explaining how to complete the form is not considered “assistance".
Proof of Residence
A recent change to election law in Wisconsin now requires anyone who is registering to vote, or updating their voter registration because of an address or name change, to provide an acceptable proof of residence document along with a completed voter registration application. Acceptable documents must contain both the current name and address of the person attempting to register.
Some common proof of residence documents include bank statements, utility bills or Wisconsin driver licenses or state I.D. cards. A full list of acceptable proof of residence documents can be found on the Government Accountability Board website. Please note that proof of residence documents can be presented in electronic format on your smartphone, laptop or tablet computer. If you have questions about proof of residence documents you can contact your municipal clerk or the Government Accountability Board.
Registering to Vote By Mail
Voters can register by mail by sending a completed voter registration application to their municipal clerk along with a copy of an acceptable proof of residence document. For the November 4, 2014 General Election, the mail-in registration period closes on October 15th. Any voter registration application sent by mail must be postmarked on or before that date.
Registering to Vote In-Person
Eligible voters may also register to vote in their clerk’s office before the election or register at their polling place on Election Day. After the close of the mail-in registration period, the only way to register to vote before Election Day is to appear in your municipal clerk’s office. A completed voter registration form and an acceptable proof of residence document are required to complete the process. This “closed” registration period begins on October 16th and ends October 31st (the Friday before the election). During the in-person absentee voting period, voters are allowed to register cast an absentee ballot during the same visit to the clerk’s office.
Wisconsin state law allows eligible voters to register to vote, or update their voter registration due to a name or address change, at their polling place on Election Day. Anyone wishing to register will need to fill out a voter registration form and present an acceptable proof of residence document.
Any eligible Wisconsin voter can vote by absentee ballot for each election. Absentee voting can be done by mail or in-person in the clerk’s office.
In-Person Absentee Voting
For the November 4 General Election, the in-person absentee voting period begins October 20, 2014 and closes on October 31, 2014 at 5 p.m., or the close of business for the municipal clerk’s office (whichever is later). All facilities where in-person absentee voting takes place must meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessibility. If you require assistance with the voting process you can bring an assistor with you to help you mark your ballot, provided that person is not your employer or your representative in a labor union. A staff member at the clerk’s office may also provide assistance with voting.
Absentee Voting by Mail
If you choose to vote an absentee ballot by mail, you must make a request in writing or fill out an absentee ballot request form and send it to your municipal clerk. You may request an absentee ballot for a specific election or for all elections within a calendar year. For the November General election, the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot be mailed to you is Thursday, October 30,, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. This request can be submitted to the clerk by mail, email or fax.
If you have difficulty getting to the polling place and would like to receive an absentee ballot for each election, you can become a permanent absentee voter. You need to certify on the absentee ballot application that you are “indefinitely confined,” meaning that for reason of age, illness, infirmity or disability you are requesting a ballot for all upcoming elections. This certification does not mean that you are permanently homebound; rather it means that you may have trouble getting around or navigating your polling place on Election Day. Once you are on the permanent absentee list you will for each election until you are no longer “indefinitely confined” or you fail to return a ballot.
Preparing for Election Day
To find the location of your polling place, view a sample ballot, check the status of your voter registration or find contact information for your municipal clerk go to myvote.wi.gov. You can us the ‘Voter Search’ function to view your voter profile and access your voting history. This page also has links to your sample ballot and information about your polling place.
If you are not registered to vote, or if you have moved, you can use the “Address Search” function on myvote.wi.gov to find the location of your new polling place. This search will also allow you to see your sample ballot for the upcoming election and view the contact information for your municipal clerk.
You can also verify that you have an ID that can be used for voting purposes by visiting the G.A.B. website and using this list: http://gab.wi.gov/publications/quick-reference/acceptable-photo-id.
If you, or someone you know, does not have a photo ID that can be used for voting purposes, they can go to the DMV and get one for free. The State of Wisconsin is issuing these cards at no cost to the voter, but you will need to bring some documents (such as a certified copy of your birth certificate, social security card, etc.) with you to complete the process. For a full list of necessary documents and information about the process, visit the DMV website: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/idcard.htm.
The DMV has recently introduced a ‘petition process’ to assist voters who do not have access to their birth certificate. You can complete a form and the DMV will verify your birth record and citizenship status and inform you when your ID is being mailed. More information about this process can be found here: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/petition-process.htm.
Polling Place Accessibility
All polling places in Wisconsin are required to be accessible for all voters. Facilities used for voting must meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Polling place accessibility begins in the parking area and includes any path of travel that a voter with a disability would use to enter the facility and access the voting area. The voting area must be set up to accommodate voters who use wheelchairs and ensure ballot privacy for all voters, no matter if they choose to vote a paper ballot or use the accessible voting equipment. All polling places must have accessible equipment available for voters to use on Election Day.
The Government Accountability Board audits polling places for each election to ensure that all eligible Wisconsin voters have access to the ballot. If you encounter an accessibility problem at your polling place on or before Election Day, please contact your municipal clerk or the Government Accountability Board so that the problem can be fixed. Problems can include inadequate accessible parking, problems with the entrance or a voting area that is not set up properly.
Assistance with Voting
If you need help marking your ballot on Election Day, you may take anyone you choose with you into the voting booth, except your employer or your labor union representative. After you have marked your ballot, the person helping you must then sign the ballot in the space provided for assistors. Also, the election workers will write the name of your assistor on the voting list. Your assistor can be a relative, a minor, and does not need to be qualified to vote. A poll worker can also help you mark your ballot and place it into the ballot box or tabulation device.
You can also request help using the accessible voting equipment. Anyone who helps you with a direct-recording electronic accessible voting machine (Edge, iVotronic, Populex or Accuvote) should position themselves behind the machine so that they cannot see how you vote. They are allowed to explain how the equipment works, but cannot assist you with making your ballot choices. If you are voting with the assistance of the Automark, the person helping you can help you use the touch screen to make your ballot choices.
Signing the Poll List
Since 2011, voters in Wisconsin have been required to sign the poll list before receiving a ballot. You are exempt from this requirement if you cannot sign the poll list because of physical disability. The election inspectors will write “exempt by order of inspectors” in the signature line and issue you a ballot.
If you do choose to sign the poll list, your signature is not required to be legible and you may also sign using an “X” if that is your regular signature. Many polling places will have signature guides available for your use to assist you with signing your name in the correct spot.
If a voter cannot enter the absentee voting location or polling place due to disability, Wisconsin state law requires that curbside voting must be available. Two poll workers will bring a ballot to the individual needing assistance, and conduct voting at their vehicle, or at the entrance to the polling place. These voters are not required to sign the poll list. Instead, the poll workers will write “exempt by order of inspectors” in the signature space on the poll list.
If a curbside voter needs to update their registration due to an address or name change or if they are not currently a registered voter, they may also register to vote curbside with a current and valid proof of residence document. Curbside voting should also be available during the in-person absentee voting period. Individuals who would like to vote curbside are encouraged to contact their municipal clerk beforehand to discuss how to initiate the process upon arrival at the voting location.
Accessible Voting Equipment
All polling places in Wisconsin are required by both state and federal law to have accessible voting equipment available for each election. There are currently seven accessible voting systems approved for use in Wisconsin. To find out which system is in use in your polling place you can visit the voting equipment page on the Government Accountability Board website. This page contains information about the accessible features for each piece of equipment, along with photos and tutorial videos (where available).
Poll workers are trained on how to activate and use the accessible equipment, so do not hesitate to ask for assistance if you need help using the machine. You can contact your municipal clerk if you would like to learn more about the accessible voting equipment that is used at your polling place.
Voting at Nursing Homes and Care Facilities
If you are a resident in a nursing home or Community-based Residential Care Facility (CBRF), it your municipal clerk will send representatives, called Special Voting Deputies (SVDs), from their office to conduct voting at your facility before Election Day. If you have a current absentee request on file, a ballot will be brought to the facility for you to vote. For registered voters without a request on file, a ballot request can be made on the day that the voting occurs at the facility.
Municipal clerks can begin sending SVDs to these facilities on October 13, 2014 for the November General Election. SVDs are required to make at least two visits to each qualified facility. If a voter at one of these facilitates has an active absentee ballot request and is not available during both of those visits, they will have a ballot mailed to them by their municipal clerk.
Municipal clerks are required to post notice at a facility that is served by SVDs at least five days in advance of the visit. This timeline allows for family members to be present while the voting is taking place and ensure that residents can receive voting assistance. Voters may only receive assistance with reading or marking their ballot from a family member or an SVD.
If you are a resident of a care facility and need to register to vote, or update your voter registration due to a name or address change, it may be possible for you to do so when the SVDs visit your facility. The timelines for voter registration vary, so it is important to contact your municipal clerk or the Government Accountability Board with any questions about this process.