By Shereen Siewert
Plans are in place for the upcoming Nov. 3 election, where voters will choose the next president of the United States along with representatives for dozens of state and local offices.
This week, election officials are offering information about options for registered voters to ensure their voices are heard.
“We want to make sure every voter who is eligible to vote this fall can do so safely and securely,” said Meagan Wolfe, administrator for the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “We learned a great deal from our elections in April, May and August and believe we have solid plans in place for November.”
Wolfe said the WEC wants citizens to choose the voting option that works best for them, whether they cast ballots by mail, early, or in person on election day.
Here are some key dates and facts to remember, according to the WEC:
Now: You don’t have to wait to register to vote or request an absentee ballot. Everything you need to know is online at https://myvote.wi.gov or by calling or visiting your local municipal clerk.
“If you’re not registered, you can get registered online if you have a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card – just fill in a few pieces of information,” said Wolfe. “If you are registered, you can request an absentee ballot and it will be mailed to your preferred address. Once it arrives, simply follow the instructions to make sure the ballot is filled out correctly and have an adult U.S. citizen witness your ballot. Then mail it back to the clerk in the postage-paid envelope.”
For voters who are not comfortable with or do not have access to technology, an absentee request paper form will be their option. But for most voters, the MyVote website is the preferred way to make their absentee ballot request. It’s also where voters can register to vote, find their polling place, view a sample ballot, or contact their municipal clerk to learn more about voting by absentee ballot in-person and by mail.
Voters also have the option to drop their absentee ballots off in-person on or before election day. “We recommend that if you’d prefer to vote from home this fall, you get your requests in as soon as possible to which will ensure you have enough time to receive and return your ballot and that local clerks have enough time to process your request,” said Wolfe.
Early September 2020: On September 1, the WEC will be mailing information about voting in November to approximately 2.6 million registered Wisconsin voters who have not already requested an absentee ballot. The information packet will include an absentee request form and a postage-paid reply envelope. Wolfe encouraged voters who choose to vote absentee to request their ballot as soon as possible, whether online or by mail.
September 17, 2020:This is the deadline for Wisconsin’s city, village and town clerks to mail absentee ballots for November 3 to registered voters with requests on file. At 47 days before the election, Wisconsin gives its voters significantly more time to receive and return their ballots than most other states.
October 14, 2020: Your last chance to register by mail or online. Visit https://myvote.wi.gov to complete the registration process in minutes or find your municipal clerk’s mailing address.
October 15 to November 1, 2020: During this closed registration period, you must register to vote in your municipal clerk’s office or at a satellite voting location run by your municipal clerk.
October 20, 2020: The first day that municipal clerks may offer in-person absentee voting in their office or a satellite location. Start dates and office hours vary by municipality. Please visit https://myvote.wi.gov to find your municipal clerk office’s contact information and learn more about absentee voting in-person for the upcoming election.
October 27, 2020:Practical deadline for voters to return their mail absentee ballots to their municipal clerk’s office. The US Postal Service recommends allowing one week for your completed absentee ballot to be delivered to your municipal clerk’s office. After this date, voters should find other options for returning their absentee ballot, which include delivering it to their municipal clerk’s office or a secure drop box if one is provided by their clerk. Most voters can also deliver their ballot to their polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day, but there are some exceptions. (See below.)
October 29, 2020: The legal deadline for most voters to request an absentee ballot by mail. Wolfe said it is unrealistic for any voter to wait this late to request an absentee ballot and expect to receive it in time to return it by Election Day to be counted.
October 30, 2020: Final day to register to vote at your municipal clerk’s office. Visit https://myvote.wi.gov to find your local clerk’s contact information and hours of operation.
November 1, 2020: The last day that municipal clerks may offer in-person absentee voting in their office or a satellite location. Most clerks only offer absentee voting in their office until Friday, October 30, and office hours vary by municipality. Please visit https://myvote.wi.gov to find your municipal clerk office’s contact information and learn more about absentee voting in-person for the upcoming election.
November 3, 2020: Election Day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and voters who are returning an absentee ballot to their polling place must get it there by 8 p.m. However, there are 35 municipalities including Milwaukee and Green Bay that count absentee ballots at a central location. Voters in those cities, villages and towns should check with their municipal clerk about where to return their ballots on Election Day. A list of central count municipalities is available here: https://elections.wi.gov/clerks/guidance/central-count-absentee.