MADISON – The Wisconsin Elections Commission recently released its list of the top things Wisconsin voters should know for the election on April 5.
- Check with your municipal clerk about rules for returning an absentee ballot.
A new order states:
- “An elector must personally mail or deliver his or her own absentee ballot, except where the law explicitly authorizes an agent to act on an elector’s behalf.”
- “The only lawful methods for casting an absentee ballot pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 6.87(4)(b)1. are for the elector to place the envelope containing the ballot in the mail or for the elector to deliver the ballot in person to the municipal clerk.”
- “The use of drop boxes, as described in the Memos, is not permitted under Wisconsin law unless the drop box is staffed by the clerk and located at the office of the clerk or a properly designated alternate site under Wis. Stat. §6.855.”
- Voters who received their absentee ballot by mail should make plans to return it to their clerk’s office as soon as possible.
The U.S. Postal Service advises that it can take up to one week for mail to be delivered, so voters who still need to return absentee ballots should drop them off at their municipal clerk’s office as soon as possible.
On Election Day, most voters may deliver their absentee ballots directly to their normal polling place, but it must arrive before polls close at 8 p.m. Voters in cities, villages or towns that count absentee ballots at a central location must return ballots to their clerk’s office or the central count location. Follow the return instructions that came with your absentee ballot. Voters who plan to return their absentee ballot to their clerk’s office should do so as early as possible because the ballot must be picked up from there and delivered to the polling place by 8 p.m. on election day.
Any voter who has not returned their absentee ballot is still eligible to vote in person on election day.
- The last day for municipal clerks to offer in person absentee voting is April 3.
However, municipalities may end in-person absentee voting before that date, so check with your municipal clerk. To learn where and when you can vote absentee in person in your municipality, visit https://MyVote.WI.gov. In some smaller communities, voters may need to make appointments with their municipal clerk’s office.
- You need an acceptable photo ID to vote, but your ID for voting does not need to show your current address or have a star on it.
Your acceptable photo ID for voting does not need to show your current address. Most voters already have the photo ID they need to vote, such as a Wisconsin driver license or ID and anyone with questions should visit the Bring It to the Ballot website (https://bringit.wi.gov) or call 1-866-VOTE-WIS for information. A voter who does not have an acceptable photo ID must be offered a provisional ballot and the opportunity to submit a photo ID within three days after the election.
Voters without an acceptable photo ID can get one for free with one visit to their local Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles office. For more information, call 608-266-1069. Voters without supporting documents needed to obtain an ID, such as a birth certificate, can also visit their local DMV office and apply. The DMV offers an ID Petition Process where it will verify the voter’s identity and issue them a voting-compliant state ID card even if they do not have all the necessary supporting documents. For more information on this process visit: https://wisconsindot.gov/pages/dmv/license-drvs/how-to-apply/petition-process.aspx.
Wisconsin voters with a driver license or state ID card do not need to worry about whether their ID has a “REAL ID” star in the corner to be used as photo ID for voting. A photo ID with the star may at some point be needed to board an airplane or enter federal buildings, but it is not required for voting.
Also, voters older than the age of 60 who use a Wisconsin driver license do not need to worry if they have not been able to renew their ID due to the pandemic. The DMV has extended the expiration date for people 60 and older whose driver license expired after March 12, 2020, until May 21, 2021. That means voters in that situation can still use their Wisconsin driver license for photo ID as it’s not technically expired.
- Voters can find their polling place on the mobile-friendly MyVote Wisconsin website.
Your polling place may have changed from the location you voted at previously. The Wisconsin Elections Commission’s MyVote Wisconsin website, https://myvote.wi.gov, allows you to verify your polling place and provides directions to every polling place in the state, as well as information about what will be on voters’ ballots when they get there.
Voters can also check whether their registration is current. If it’s not, they can start the voter registration process online, print their filled-out voter registration form and bring it to the polls with them on election day so they can sign it in front of a poll worker. Voters can also complete a paper registration form at their polling place on election day. If you are registering to vote, remember you will need to show a proof of residence document with your current name and address on it. Proof of residence can be a government document, like a Wisconsin ID card, or a document like a bank statement or utility bill. You can show your proof of residence document either in paper form, or electronically on your phone or mobile device. For details, check out the Voter Registration Guide: https://elections.wi.gov/voters/first-time-registration-guide.
- Your vote is secure.
Wisconsin’s election systems are secure thanks to the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s strong partnerships with federal and state agencies and local election officials.
The WEC has found no evidence that Wisconsin’s election systems have ever been compromised. The WEC has taken extraordinary steps to ensure that voter registration and vote counting systems are secure and have many redundancies to protect and backup all voter data.
Rumors and misleading information about elections security are prevalent. Voters should ensure that they are getting the facts about elections from official sources – your local and state election officials.
Voters with questions about election security can read more about the WEC’s efforts here: https://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/security and https://elections.wi.gov/absentee.
- Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on April 5.
Turnout for a spring election in April is typically about 20 percent to 25 percent of voting-age adults. This does not include the years with presidential preference primaries when the turnout typically spikes higher. More information about voter turnout is available at https://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/statistics.