Wisconsin Voter FAQs
What is an absentee ballot and how do I get one?
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.
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, use alternative methods to return ballots.
- If you are not registered or your name or address has changed, you will need to register or update your registration before requesting an absentee ballot.
- MyVote Wisconsin is fastest way to request an absentee ballot. The first step will be checking to see if you are already registered to vote.
- You may send the EL-121 Absentee Ballot Request by mail. See form in Spanish and Hmong.
- You will need to provide a copy of your acceptable photo ID with your absentee ballot request. Check Bring It to the Ballot to see if you have acceptable photo ID for voting. If you don’t have any of these IDs, learn how to get a free state ID.
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).
- Mail or deliver your ballot to your clerk by the deadline. Ballot must be sealed.
Municipal Clerks will attempt to contact voters to repair issues. Submit your ballot as soon as possible!
What are my options for delivering my absentee ballot?
Absentee ballots must be received by Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 before 8:00 p.m. Return your ballot as soon as possible.
(Case: 3:20-cv-00249-wmc filed 9/21/20)
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.
Depending on your municipality, voters can deliver 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 Wisconsin Election Commission’s full list of Nov. 2020 voting deadlines.
Polling place on Election Day
Most voters may also deliver 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.
How do I track my absentee ballot?
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:
- Absentee request submitted
- Absentee request approved
- Preparing your absentee ballot
- Absentee ballot sent
- Absentee Ballot anticipated delivery
- 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.
How do I correct a mistake on my 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 and legal deadlines
Return your ballot as soon as possible to give your municipal clerk enough time to correct errors. Oct. 27 is the practical deadline for voters to mail their mail absentee ballots to their municipal clerk’s office. After this date, use the 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.
Where do I find my personal voting-related info?
MyVote Wisconsin is your official centralized resource
- 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. 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 requirements to vote in Wisconsin?
You must meet the following requirements before the next election:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Live at your current residence for at least 28 consecutive days. See list of common types of documents used to prove residency—including homeless voters.
- Voters who are homeless may use a letter from a shelter or other organization providing services to the homeless as proof of residence when registering to vote. Get a sample letter and more information for homeless voters.
- Acceptable photo ID is required for in-person voting (including absentee voting in person). Check to see if you already have the right photo ID. If you don’t have any of these IDs, learn how to get a free state ID.
- Register to vote. See below for all four options for registering to vote.
Am I already registered to vote?
Enter your name and birthdate on MyVote Wisconsin to see if you are already registered. You can also check with your municipal clerk. Your registration page also shows the address of your polling place.
How do I register to vote?
First, you will need to have proof of residence when you register to vote. Documents include Wisconsin driver license, state ID, or utility bill.
Do any of the following to register to vote. Online and mail deadlines sourced from case: 3:20-cv-00249-wmc filed 9/21/20)
- Register online at MyVote Wisconsin by Oct. 14.
- Register by mail by posting your EL-131 Voter Registration Application to your municipal clerk. Envelope must be postmarked by Oct. 14. (See forms in Spanish | Hmong)
- Register in person at your municipal clerk’s office until Fri. Oct. 30, 2020 (the Friday before Election Day). Call your clerk’s office for hours.
- Register at the polls on Election Day, Tues. Nov 3, 2020. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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.
- 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.