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Election Administration in Wisconsin

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Election Types and Dates

Election Dates

Upcoming Primary Elections

The Presidential Preference Primary election is April 5, 2016. The primary election for other federal offices and state legislative offices is August 9, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. GAB Website: Elections [link]

Wis. GAB Website: 2016 Spring Election [link]

Upcoming General Elections

The general election for President, other federal offices, and state legislative offices is November 8, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. GAB Website: Elections [link]

How is a nominee determined?

How is a nominee determined (caucus, primary, convention)?

Primary for major party candidates, and petition for independent candidates.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 8.16 [link]

Political Party Affiliation

Can voters register by party in the state?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wisconsin Voter Registration Application [link]

Must voters be registered with a political party if they would like to vote on that party’s candidates in a partisan primary election (i.e., are primaries open or closed)?

No, Wisconsin's primaries are open. A person can only vote for candidates of one political party in a primary election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 7.50(2)(d) [link]

When can a voter change or switch their party affiliation?

Voters in Wisconsin do not formally affiliate with a political party.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wisconsin Voter Registration Application [link]

Voter Registration

Who Can Vote?

Can someone pre-register to vote if they will not be 18 years old by the next election? If so, who?

Only voters who will be 18 years old by the next election may register to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.05 [link]

Can 17-year-olds who will be 18-year-olds by the general election vote in the primary?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.02(1) [link]

Does the state take away the right to vote from persons convicted of certain crimes? If so, what crimes?

Anyone convicted of a felony or bribery loses the right to vote while in prison or on probation.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 304.078(3) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.03(1)(b) [link]

If people lose the right to vote because of a criminal conviction, can they regain the right to vote? How?

Upon completion of their sentence, including any time spent in prison or on parole, people convicted of felonies or bribery may register and vote. They can also regain the right to vote by being pardoned by the Governor.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 304.078(3) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.03(1)(b) [link]

Voter Registration Options

Is fully online voter registration available? (i.e., can voters fill in and submit an online application without printing and signing it?)

Yes, but only voters who have a Wisconsin driver's license or state ID card can register to vote online.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.30(5) [link]

Does the state accept the National Mail Registration Form?

Yes, Wisconsin allows people to register to vote using the National Mail Registration Form. Click here to download the form.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

National Mail Voter Registration Form [link]

Is the state required to register voters at public assistance agencies and driver's license agencies, per the National Voter Registration Act of 1993?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

U.S. Department of Justice website [link]

Student-Specific Rules

Does the state have specific rules on students registering to vote or voting?

A student can choose to register to vote at the address they live while attending school or at another address they consider to be their home (such as their parent's address).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.10(4) [link]

Voter Registration Deadlines

When is the voter registration deadline?

However, Wisconsin also allows people to register to vote or update their registration information at the polls on Election Day.

If a voter registration application is submitted by mail, eletronically, or in any location other than the registrar's office, the deadline is the third Wednesday before Election Day.

People can register to vote in person at the municipal clerk's office until the Friday immediately before Election Day. If a person registers in this manner after the third Wednesday before Election Day, the clerk will give the person a certificate that the person must show to the poll inspectors when voting on Election Day.

Finally, people who are hospitalized may register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot starting the 7th day before Election Day and ending at 5:00pm on Election Day itself. To do so, the person must give their completed voter registration application and absentee ballot application to someone they appoint to assist them, and that assistant must deliver their applications to the municipal clerk's office in person.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.29 (late in-person registration) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.28(1) (general deadline) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 86.3 (late hospital registration) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.55 (Election Day registration) [link]

How is the deadline enforced for mailed applications?

Postmark - the application must be postmarked by the third Wednesday before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.28(1) [link]

How is the deadline enforced for online applications?

Submission - the application must be submitted by the third Wednesday before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.30(5) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.28(1) [link]

When must a voter make changes to their registration for the changes to be in effect before the person seeks to vote?

A voter can update their registration information at the polls on Election Day itself.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.55 (Election Day registration) [link]

Same-Day Registration

Can voters register and vote on the same day (i.e., does the state offer same-day registration)?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.55 [link]

Voters Who Have Moved or Changed Their Name

Can people vote if they moved, but did not update their voter registration with their new address?

Yes, people can update their voter registration address at the polls on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.55 [link]

Can people vote if they have changed their name, but did not update their voter registration with their new name?

Yes, people can update their voter registration name at the polls on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.55 [link]

Language, Literacy, and Disability Access

Language and Literacy Access

Does the state have any places that must provide election materials in languages other than English, per Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

Yes, Milwaukee City must provide voting materials in Spanish.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Voting Rights Act Amendments of 2006, Determinations Under Section 203, 76 Fed. Reg. 63602 (Oct. 13, 2011) [link]

Who can help a voter with reading assistance or translation if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote due to inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under state law, If a voter needs assistance due to disability or difficulty reading and writing English, they may choose someone to be their assistant. The assistant may not be the voter's employer, agent of the employer, or officer or agent of the voter's labor union. A person can receive assistance whether voting in person or by absent ballot. When receiving assistance voting in person on Election Day, the assistant must read the voter the contents of the ballot, then say the exact phrase, "For which one do you vote?" The assistant must then mark the voter's choices accordingly.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.82 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.97(5) [link]

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Disability Access

Who can help a voter with a disability if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote due to inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under state law, If a voter needs assistance due to disability or difficulty reading and writing English, they may choose someone to be their assistant. The assistant may not be the voter's employer, agent of the employer, or officer or agent of the voter's labor union. A person can receive assistance whether voting in person or by absent ballot. When receiving assistance in person on Election Day, the assistant must read the voter the contents of the ballot, then say the exact phrase, "For which one do you vote?" The assistant must mark the voter's choices accordingly.

If a voter wishes to vote in person on Election Day but has a disability that prevents them from entering the polling place, additional rules apply. The assistant must show poll inspectors one or more constitute "proof of identification" (photo ID) and "proof of residence." (For further information on acceptable forms of ID, see the "Voter ID and Challenges" section below.) A poll inspector will then give the assistant a paper ballot and allow the assistant to help the voter mark it at the entrance to the polling place. After the ballot is marked, the poll inspector will announce to all people in the polling place that "a ballot offered by ... (stating voter's name), an elector who, as a result of disability, is unable to enter the polling place without assistance." The inspector must then ask, "Does anyone object to the reception of this ballot?" If any qualified voter in the polling place objects, the ballot will be considered a challenged ballot (see section below on "Voter ID and Challenges" for further information on challenged ballots).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.82 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.97(5) [link]

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Does the state have other rules related to access for persons with disabilities?

Accommodations Voters with disabilities may request from the municipal clerk accommodations to allow them to vote in person, and the clerk must offer these accommodations when feasible.

Signing Poll List At the polls, voters who have a disability that prevents them from signing the poll list are exempt from having to sign it, so long as they have previously signed their voter registration application or they are exempt from the voter registration requirement. However, if election officials do not agree that the voter has a physical disability that prevents them from signing, they must allow the voter to cast a ballot without signing the poll list but the voter's ballot will be treated as a challenged ballot. After the election, the voter can dispute the challenge and provide evidence of their disability to the Board of Canvassers. For more information on challenged ballots, see the "Voter ID and Challenges" section below.

Voter Registration A person with a disability who cannot sign their voter registration application may designate a voter to sign the application of the person's behalf.

Absentee Ballots Voters with disabilities who wish to vote by absentee ballot but cannot write their name due to their disability can designate another person to apply for an absentee ballot on their behalf.

If a voter is indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity, or expects to have a disability for an indefinite period, then the voter may apply to be automatically sent an absentee ballot in every future election.

If a hospitalized person applies (through an assistant) for an emergency absentee ballot between the 7th day before Election Day and 5:00pm on Election Day itself, and the person cannot sign the ballot application (and cannot sign the voter registration form, if the person is registering to vote at the same time) due to a physical disability, then the person may allow another voter to sign on their behalf.

Incompetence and Guardianship Additionally, people who are adjudicated in Wisconsin to be incompetent or to have limited competence, and people under guardianship, are ineligible to vote unless a court specifically finds that the person is competent to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.33(2)(a) (voter registration) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.15(14) (accomodations) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.79(2)(am) (poll list) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 5.36 (accommodations) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.03 (incompetence) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.86 (absentee ballots) [link]

Early Voting, Absentee Voting, and Other Ways to Vote

Vote-by-Mail

Does the state provide mail ballots to all voters without a request?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86 [link]

Early Voting/Absentee In-Person Voting

Does the state have early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Yes, Wisconsin has in-person absentee voting. Voters must show "proof of identification" (photo ID) when voting an absentee ballot in person (see section below on Voter ID and Challenges for further information).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86(1)(a) [link]

Where does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

At the municipal clerk's office, or at an alternative site chosen by the municipality's governing body that is located as close as possible to the municipal clerk's office.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.855(1) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.86 [link]

When does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

The third Monday before the election through no later than 7 p.m. on the Friday before the election. Absentee ballots can be received only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86(1)(b) [link]

What official chooses early voting/absentee in-person voting locations?

In-person absentee voting typically occurs only in the municipal clerk's office, but the governing body of a municipality may choose a different location nearby the municipal clerk's office for it.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.855(1) [link]

Are lists of early voters/absentee in-person voters published? How?

Yes. Municipal clerks must keep a list of all people who applied for an absentee ballot and all people who voted an absentee ballot, including all people who voted an absentee ballot in person. This list is open to public inspection.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.89 [link]

Absentee Voting by Mail

Can anyone vote absentee by mail without an excuse? If not, what excuses allow a voter to vote absentee by mail?

Yes, any voter may vote an absentee ballot by mail.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.85 [link]

Deadline to apply for absentee ballot by mail

The application must be received by the municipal clerk by 5 p.m. on the fifth day before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86(1)(b) [link]

How does a voter apply for an absentee mail ballot?

Voters should complete [the application] (http://gab.wi.gov/sites/default/files/gab_forms/4/gab_121_application_for_absentee_ballot_revised_06_10125.pdf) and mail, fax, or e-mail it to their municipal clerk. Voters who apply by fax or e-mail do not need to sign the application, but they must print and sign a copy of their application and return it with their ballot.

A voter can indicate on their application whether they would like to automatically be sent absentee ballots for every election in that calendar year.

Additionally, voters who are indefinitely confined due to a disability, age, or illness can apply to automatically receive absentee ballots in every future election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86 [link]

Can a voter make an online request for an absentee mail ballot?

Voters may apply by e-mailing their application to the municipal clerk, and the e-mailed application does not need to be signed. However, voters who apply by e-mail must print and sign a copy of their e-mailed application and return it with their ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86 [link]

Does a voter need to submit any supporting documentation or verification with an absentee mail ballot or absentee mail ballot application? If so, what is required?

A voter must include with their absentee ballot application a copy of their proof of identification (photo ID). (For futher information on what types of ID are acceptable, see the "Voter ID and Challenges" section below.) However, if a voter has previously voted an absentee ballot and provided proof of identification with that ballot, and the voter's name or address has not changed since then, then the voter does not need to include a copy of proof of identification.

Additionally, voters must have their absentee ballot envelope signed by a witness, and the witness must write their own address on the envelope as well. The witness cannot be a candidate.

Additionally, voters who apply to automatically receive absentee ballots in future elections due to their age, disability, or illness can, instead of including a copy of proof of identification, include with their absentee ballot itself a statement, signed by the same person who witnessed the voter's ballot, which contains the name and address of the voter and verifies that the name and address are correct

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.87 [link]

Are there restrictions on who may request or turn in an absentee mail ballot application for a voter?

Only a voter who is hospitalized may designate another person to deliver their absentee ballot application for them, and they may do so only from the seventh day before Election Day through 5:00pm on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86(3) [link]

Deadline to return absentee ballots

If the municaplity canvasses absentee ballots at the polls on Election Day, then the ballot must be received by the municipal clerk in time for the clerk to deliver the completed ballot to the voter's polling place before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. If the municipality canvasses absentee ballots at the municipal clerk's office, then the absentee ballot must be received by the clerk no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.87(6) [link]

Are there restrictions on who may return a voter's absentee mail ballot for them?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.87 [link]

Are there any special emergency rules that allow a voter to vote absentee by mail if they are unable to make it to the polls at the last minute?

A hospitalized voter may designate an assistant to apply for and receive an absentee ballot on the voter's behalf. The absentee ballot application must be signed by the voter unless the voter has a disability that prevents them from signing, in which event another voter may sign on the voter's behalf. The assistant can then deliver the absentee ballot application and the voter's photo ID (see section below on Voter ID and Challenges for futher information) to the municipal clerk's office. The assistant can also deliver a signed voter registration application for the voter if the voter is not yet registered (if the voter has a disability that prevents them from signing their voter registration application, another voter can sign on the voter's behalf). The applications cannot be delivered more than 7 days before an election and not later than 5 p.m. on Election Day itself.

The clerk will then give the assistant an absentee ballot to deliver to the voter. The voter must then complete the absentee ballot and return it to the municipal clerk either by mail or by having the assistant deliver it to the municipal clerk's office. If the absentee ballot is returned on Election Day, it cannot be returned by mail; it must be delivered by the assistant to either (1) the voter's polling place before the time the polls close, if the municipality counts absentee ballots at polling places; or (2) the municipal clerk's office before 8:00 p.m., if the municipality counts absentee ballots in the municipal clerk's office.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.86(3) [link]

Are lists of people who vote absentee by mail published? How?

Yes. Municipal clerks must keep a list of all people who applied for an absentee ballot and all people who voted an absentee ballot. This list is open to public inspection.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.89 [link]

Absentee Voting for Military and Overseas Voters

Who is eligible for military/overseas absentee voting?

"Military voters" are:

  • Members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, the Commissioned Corps of the Federal Public Health Service, and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Members of the Merchant Marine of the United States
  • Civilian employees of the United States and civilians officially attached to a uniformed service who are serving outside the United States
  • Peace Corps volunteers
  • Spouses and dependents of those listed in the above categories who are living with or accompanying them

An "overseas voter" is a U.S. citizen living outside of the United States who:

  • Last lived in Wisconsin before leaving the United States, and is not registered to vote in any other state; or
  • Had a parent who last lived in Wisconsin before the parent left the United States, and is not registered to vote in any other state.

Military voters can vote in federal, state, and local elections. Overseas voters can vote only in federal elections.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.24 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.22 [link]

How do voters apply for a military/overseas ballot?

Military and overseas voters may apply using the standard absentee ballot application (see above section on Absentee Voting by Mail for details) or using a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA). Military and overseas voters may mail, fax, or e-mail their application to their municipal clerk, and they may specify on their application whether they would like their ballot sent to them by mail, fax, or e-mail.

Military voters do not need to register to vote to apply for an absentee ballot. Overseas voters must register to vote, but they do not need to provide proof of residence. A person can use an FPCA to both register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot at the same time, but if the voter wishes to register before the next election, it must be received by the voter registration deadline.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.24 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.865 [link]

Wisconsin Absentee Ballot Application [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.22 [link]

Deadline to apply for a military/overseas ballot

The following deadlines apply:

  • For military voters who wish to vote in federal, state, and local races, and apply through the mail, the application must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day
  • For military voters who wish to vote only on federal races, the application must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day.
  • For overseas voters, their applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the fifth day before Election Day.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. GAB Website: Military and Overseas Voters [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.86(1)(b) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.86(1)(b)-(c) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.24(4)(a) [link]

Deadline to return the military/overseas ballot

If the municaplity canvasses absentee ballots at the polls on Election Day, then the ballot must be received by the municipal clerk in time for the clerk to deliver the completed ballot to the voter's polling place before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. If the municipality canvasses absentee ballots at the municipal clerk's office, then the absentee ballot must be received by the clerk no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.87(6) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.25(4) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.22(5) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.24(7) [link]

Who is eligible to use a write-in absentee ballot? How does it work?

If a military or overseas voter has applied for an absentee ballot by the deadline may vote using a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) instead of waiting to receive and vote a standard absentee ballot. Additionally, a military voter (but not an overseas voter) can use a FWAB without applying for an absentee ballot beforehand.

A FWAB must be received by the absentee ballot deadline.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.25 [link]

On Election Day

Where do you vote in person?

Where do you vote in person?

At the polling place in the voter's ward.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.77 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 5.15 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 5.25 [link]

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

7 a.m. to 8 p.m. People in line waiting to vote at 8 p.m. are allowed to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.78(1m) [link]

In the Voting Booth

Are there rules about what materials a voter can and cannot bring into the voting booth?

Inside of a polling place on Election Day, inside of a municipal clerk's office or alternate site during the hours of absentee in-person voting, and within 100 feet of any of these locations on public property, a person cannot post or distribute any written material that describes (or purports to describe) the rights or responsibilities of people voting or registering to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 12.035 [link]

Can a voter bring children into the voting booth with them?

Children under 18 may accompany their parent or guardian into the voting booth.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.80 [link]

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Yes. An employee may have 3 consecutive hours off of work in order to vote. The employer does not have to pay the employee for these hours, and the employer can say when during the work day that the voter may go to the polls. An employee should notify their employer of their desire to take time off to vote no later than the day before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.76 [link]

Campaigning, Electioneering, and Recording Devices

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering during early voting/absentee in-person voting?

During the hours that absentee ballots are being accepted, no person may campaign (that is, influence how other people vote) inside of the municipal clerk's office, inside of an alternate in-person absentee voting location, or within 100 feet of either of these locations on any public property. However, people may have campaign bumper sticks on their cars within this 100-foot area.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 12.03 [link]

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering on Election Day?

On Election Day, no person may campaign (that is, influence how other people vote) inside of a polling place or within 100 feet of a polling place on any public property. However, people may have campaign bumper sticks on their cars within this 100-foot area.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 12.03 [link]

Can a voter wear a button or t-shirt with a candidate's name or logo on it into the polling place when they vote?

No. However, a voter may have campaign bumper stickers on their car near the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 12.03 [link]

*NEW 2** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) outside the polling place but within the zone around the polling place where campaigning/electioneering is banned?

State law does not separately address this issue (see the previous question).

Who's at the Polls?

Can persons other than election workers observe inside the polls?

Yes.

(Note: Wisconsin law does not regulate observers. However, election officials are currently enforcing draft regulations that are pending adoption by the state legislature.)

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. GAB Website: Draft Chapter 4 Regulations of Observers [link]

What are observers inside the polls called in the state?

Election Observers.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. GAB Website: Draft Chapter 4 Regulations of Observers [link]

Does the state establish requirements to observe inside the polls?

Any member of the public may be an election observer. To do so, a person must notify the chief inspector of the polling place of their desire to be an election observer, show the chief inspector photo ID, and write on the polling place's election observer log their full name, street address, municipality, and the name of the organization or candidate the observer represents, if any. The person will then be given an "election observer" badge, which the person must wear at all times in the polling place.

If necessary due to physical limitations, the chief inspector may reasonably limit the number of observers representing the same organization or candidate.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. GAB Website: Draft Chapter 4 Regulations of Observers (GAB § 4.02(2)-(3)) [link]

*NEW 3* Can a poll observer use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) in the polling place?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 10/16/2016)

Wisconsin Administrative Rule GAB Chapter 4: Election Observers pg. 3 [link]

Are there other rules on what poll observers can or cannot do?

Election observers can:

  • Observe all public aspects of the voting process, including the opening of a polling place before voting begins, voters waiting in line, the Election Day voter registration process, the recording of voters in the poll list, voters receiving ballots, the putting of ballots into the ballot box, challenges to a voter's right to vote, the issuing of provisional ballots, and the counting and reconciliation process.
  • View the poll list, except for confidential information in it
  • Send text messages and otherwise silently use cell phones or wireless communications devices
  • Ask the chief inspector (or their designee) questions about the conduct of the election
  • Direct to the chief inspector (or their designee) any challenge to the right to vote of a voter in the polling place.
  • Assist a voter who has a disability or is illiterate, if the voter requests it and the observer qualifies as an assistant (see section above on Language, Literacy, and Disability Access).

Election observers cannot:

  • Remove their "election observer" badge inside the polling place
  • Observe the election outside of the designated observation area, which must be (unless unfeasible) within 3 to 8 feet of the tables in which voters check in and can register to vote.
  • Be loud, disruptive, or distracting to voters or election officials
  • Handle the original version of any election document
  • Talk with others about any candidate, question, or party appearing on the ballot
  • Use a cell phone or wireless communication device to make a voice call
  • Use any video or still camera while the polling place is open, or take a photograph of the poll list
  • Campaign, or wear any campaign clothing
Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. GAB Website: Draft Chapter 4 Regulations of Observers (GAB §§ 4.01 -4.02) [link]

Provisional Voting and Voters at the Wrong Polling Place

When should a voter be offered a provisional ballot?

Under Section 203 of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, if a person claims to be a registered voter in the jurisdiction in which the person desires to vote and the person claims to be eligible to vote in a federal election, but the person’s name does not appear on the official list of eligible voters for the polling place or an election official asserts that the person is not eligible to vote, then that person must be permitted to cast a provisional ballot at that polling place. The person may cast the provisional ballot after executing, before an election official at the polling place, a written affirmation stating that the person is (1) a registered voter in the jurisdiction, and (2) eligible to vote in that election.

Additionally, any person who votes in a federal election as a result of a federal or state court order, or any other order extending the time established for closing the polls by a state law in effect 10 days before the date of that election, may only vote in that election by casting a provisional ballot. Any such ballot cast must be separated and held apart from other provisional ballots cast for different reasons.

Under state law, a voter may be given a provisional ballot because the voter did not show proper ID (photo ID and proof of residence, if required) when voting.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.97 [link]

52 U.S.C. § 21082 (federal law) [link]

If a voter casts a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct, will the ballot be counted?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.97 [link]

Following up on a provisional ballot

If a voter did not show the required ID and cast a provisional ballot, the voter must either (1) return to their polling place before the polls close and show poll inspectors their photo ID, or (2) travel to the municipal clerk's office and show the clerk photo ID no later than 4:00 p.m. on the Friday after the election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.97(3) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.79(2)(d) [link]

Wisconsin Provisional Ballot Information Sheet [link]

Finding out if a provisional ballot was counted

Voters may contact their municipal clerk to learn whether their provisional ballot was counted.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wisconsin Provisional Ballot Information Sheet [link]

Ballot Shortages/Voting Machine Malfunctions

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a polling place runs out of printed ballots? Are handwritten/photocopied ballots allowed?

If a polling place runs out of ballots, the municipal clerk must deliver substitute ballots to the polling place. Voters can use only these substitute ballots; other handwritten or photocopied ballots are not allowed.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 7.15(6) [link]

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a voting machine breaks or malfunctions?

If a voting machine malfunctions, the municipal clerk must deliver substitute ballots to the polling place. Voters can use only these substitute ballots; other handwritten or photocopied ballots are not allowed.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 7.15(6) [link]

Voter ID and Challenges

Voter ID

Who must show ID to vote?

All voters who are casting their ballot in person must show a photo ID, except for any military and overseas voters who vote in person, and any person who obtains confidentiality for experiencing domestic abuse or sexual asssault. Persons who have obtained confidentiality must still show their confidential voter identification card or tell the poll inspector or clerk the identification card number.

Additionally, voters who submitted a voter registration application without proof of residence must provide proof of residence the next time they vote, regardless of whether the voter is casting their ballot in person or is mailing in an absentee ballot (a copy of the proof of residence should be mailed in with the absentee ballot). Similarly, people who are registering to vote at the polls must provide proof of residence.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 6.34 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.79 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.97 [link]

Are there any special requirements for first-time voters?

People who register to vote must submit "proof of residence" when submitting their voter registration application, including people who register to vote at the same time that they cast an absentee ballot or vote on Election Day. (An exception applies to people who register to vote online and include on their application a verifiable driver's license number or state DMV-issued ID card number.)

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 6.34 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.79 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.97 [link]

What ID is acceptable?

Proof of Identification (Photo ID)

For voters who must show "proof of identification," any of the following forms of ID is acceptable so long as it (1) has the voter's name (which must match the name of the voter's voter registration application), (2) has a photograph of the voter, and (3) is unexpired or expired after the last general election, unless otherwise indicated below:

  • A Wisconsin state ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, which should immediately be offered for free to any person who applies for one.
  • A Wisconsin driver's license
  • An identification card issued by a U.S. uniformed service.
  • A U.S. passport
  • A certificate of U.S. naturalization that was issued not earlier than 2 years before
  • An unexpired driver's receipt
  • An identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin, regardless of its expiration date
  • An unexpired identification card issued by an accredited university or college in Wisconsin, so long as it contains the signature of student, an issuance date, and an expiration date that shows the card expires no later than 2 years after the date of issuance.
  • An unexpired veterans identification card issued by the veterans health administration of the federal department of veterans affairs.

Four exceptions apply to this requirement:

  • If a voter is using a Wisconsin driver's license or a state ID issued by the DMV to meet the photo ID requirement, the ID does not have to include a photograph of the voter if the voter was issued the ID without a photograph due to the voter's religious beliefs.
  • If a voter receives a citation or notice of intent to revoke or suspend their driver's license from a police officer that is dated within 60 days of Election Day and the voter was required to surrender their license or driving receipt at the time the citation or notice was issued, the voter may, instead of showing a photo ID, show an original copy of the citation or notice.
  • Persons who have obtained confidentiality may, instead of showing a photo ID, show their confidential voter identification card or tell the poll inspector or clerk the identification card number.
  • Overseas and military voters do not need to show any ID.

Proof of Residence

For newly-registering voters who must show proof of residence (see question above), the voter must show one of the following forms of ID, most of which does not need to have a photograph, but all of which must (1) have the voter's current full name, (2) must have the voter's current full address, and (3) must be valid on the date the voter registers, if the ID is valid only for a limited time:

  • A current and valid Wisconsin driver's license
  • A current and valid Wisconsin state ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit, except for identification cards issued by a city or village
  • An official identification card or license issued by an employer in the normal course of business that contains a photograph of the cardholder or license holder, except including a business card.
  • A real property tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
  • A residential lease (if used when voting or when registering to vote in person; it's not acceptable proof of residence if submitted with a mailed or online voterregistration application),
  • A utility bill for the period that starts no earlier than 90 days before the day registration is made.
  • A bank statement.
  • A paycheck.
  • A check or other document issued by a unit of government.
  • For a person who lives in a residential care facility, and wishes to register at the facility, they can use a contract or intake document prepared by the residential care facility that specifies that the occupant currently resides in the facility. The contract or intake document may also identify the room or unit in which the occupant lives.

Alternatively, a person can meet the proof-of-residence requirement by submitting one of the following forms of student ID even if it does not have the person's current complete address:

  • A university, college, or technical college identification card that contains a photograph of the person together with a fee payment receipt issued to the person by the university, college, or technical college dated no earlier than 9 months before Election Day.
  • An identification card issued by a university, college, or technical college that contains a photograph of the person if the university, college, or technical college that issued the card provides a certified and current list of students who live in housing sponsored by the university, college, or technical college and who are U.S. citizens to the municipal clerk before the election showing the current address of the students and if the municipal clerk, election registration official, or inspector verifies that the student showing the card is included on the list.

Both Types of ID If a voter must show both "proof of identification" and "proof of residence," the same document can be used to fulfill both requirements so long as it satisfies the criteria of both types of ID (such as a driver's license).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 6.34 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.79 [link]

Wis. Code § 5.02(6m), (16c) (photo ID and religious exceptions) [link]

Wis. Code § 6.97 [link]

Is a student ID an acceptable form of identification?

Yes, but the requirements differ depending on whether the student ID is being used as "proof of identification" or "proof of residence."

Proof of Identification: The student ID be an unexpired identification card issued by an accredited university or college in Wisconsin, and it must contain the student's name and photograph, the student's signature, an issuance date, and an expiration date that shows the card expires no later than 2 years after the date of issuance.

Proof of Residence: The student ID does not need to show the student's current address, but it must be either:

  • A university, college, or technical college identification card that contains a photograph of the person together with a fee payment receipt issued to the person by the university, college, or technical college dated no earlier than 9 months before Election Day; or
  • An identification card issued by a university, college, or technical college that contains a photograph of the person if the university, college, or technical college that issued the card provides a certified and current list of students who live in housing sponsored by the university, college, or technical college and who are U.S. citizens to the municipal clerk before the election showing the current address of the students and if the municipal clerk, election registration official, or inspector verifies that the student showing the card is included on the list.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 6.34 [link]

Wis. Code § 5.02(6m), (16c) [link]

Does the address on the ID have to match the address at which the voter is registered?

If the ID is being used to satisfy the "proof or residence" requirement, yes. If the ID is being usted to satisfy the "proof of identification" (photo ID) requirement, no address is required to be on the ID.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 6.34 [link]

Wis. Code § 5.02(6m), (16c) [link]

If a voter has no ID, are there alternatives such as an oath or witness?

The voter may cast a provisional ballot. For the ballot to count, the voter must then either (1) return to their polling place before the polls close and show poll inspectors their photo ID, or (2) travel to the municipal clerk's office and show the clerk photo ID no later than 4:00 p.m. on the Friday after the election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.97(3) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 6.79(2)(d) [link]

Wisconsin Provisional Ballot Information Sheet [link]

Do elections without federal offices on the ballot (such as off-year gubernatorial elections) have different ID requirements?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 6.97 [link]

Challenges to Voters at the Polling Place

Who can challenge a voter at the polling place?

Any voter or election inspector may challenge a voter.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Code § 6.925 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.92 [link]

What are the allowed reasons on which a voter can be challenged at the polling place?

A voter can be challenged for being ineligible to vote on any of the following grounds:

  • The voter is not a citizen of the United States
  • The voter is not at least 18 years of age
  • The voter has not lived in the election district for at least 10 days
  • The voter has a felony conviction and has not had their civil rights restored
  • The voter has been adjudicated incompetent
  • The voter has voted previously in the same election
  • The voter has made a bet or wager on the outcome of the election
  • The voter is ineligible to vote for any other reason
Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Admin. Code GAB §§ 9.01-9.02 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.925 [link]

Wis. Code § 6.92 [link]

Is there a requirement for the challenger to provide cause or evidence?

If a challenge is made by another voter, then an election inspector must ask the challenger the reason why they believe the challenged voter is ineligible to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Admin. Code GAB §§ 9.01-9.02 [link]

How does a voter defend their eligibility to vote if they are challenged?

Election inspectors will ask the challenged voter questions to verify their eligibility under oath. Then, the election official will administer an oath of eligibility. If the challenged voter refuses to answer questions, admits under questioning that they are not qualified to vote, or refuses to take the oath, the voter will not be given a ballot. Otherwise, the challenge will be noted and the voter given a ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Admin. Code GAB §§ 9.01-9.03 [link]

What are the restrictions on polling place challenges?

If a person abuses the challenge process, election inspectors can remove that person from the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Admin. Code GAB §§ 9.01-9.02 [link]

Wis. Code § 7.41(3) [link]

State and Local Election Officials

The State Election Authority

Who/what is the state election authority?

The Government Accountability Board until June 30, 2016, at which point its election-related duties will be transferred to a new Elections Commission.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Statement on Transition from G.A.B. to Elections and Ethics Commissions [link]

Current official

Kevin Kennedy, Director

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Statement on Transition from G.A.B. to Elections and Ethics Commissions [link]

E-mail

gab@wi.gov

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

GAB Website: Contact Us [link]

Phone

(608) 266-8005

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

GAB Website: Contact Us [link]

Address

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 7984
Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7984

Physical Address:
212 East Washington Avenue, Third Floor
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

GAB Website: Contact Us [link]

Local Election Authorities

What local election official(s) are in charge of major state-level elections (such as the even-year November general elections)?

The Municipal Clerk, in most municipalities; the Municipal Board of Election Commissioners, in municipalities with a a population size over 500,000 (such as Milwaukee).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 7.21 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.15 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.20 [link]

What is the county-level election official?

County Clerk, in most counties; the County Board of Election Commissioners, in counties with a population size over 750,000. County election officials prepare election-day ballots and election supplies for federal, state, and county elections, but most election duties are given to municipal election officials.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 7.10 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.21 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.15 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.20 [link]

What is the municipal-level election official?

The Municipal Clerk, in most municipalities; the Municipal Board of Election Commissioners, in municipalities with a a population size over 500,000 (such as Milwaukee).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 7.21 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.15 [link]

Wis. Stat. § 7.20 [link]

Contact information for local election authorities

Directory of Wisconsin's County and Municipal Clerks

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Directory of Wisconsin's County and Municipal Clerks [link]

The Voter File

Acquiring a Voter File

Under state procedure, who may acquire a voter file?

Any person.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Stat. § 6.36(1)(b) [link]

Wis. Stat. § 19.35(1) [link]

Who is the state-level contact for acquiring a voter file?

The Government Accountability Board until June 30, 2016, at which point its election-related duties will be transferred to a new Elections Commission.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Statement on Transition from G.A.B. to Elections and Ethics Commissions [link]

Badger Voter's Instruction Manual [link]

How much does the state charge for the file?

For an electronic copy, the charge is $25 plus $5 for each set of 1,000 voter registration data records (rounded to the nearest thousand). The minimum total cost is $30, and the maximum total cost is $12,500.

For a paper copy, the charge $0.25 per page plus the cost of postage and shipping.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Wis. Admin. Code GAB § 3.50(4)-(5) [link]

What format is the file available in?

The electronic file is available in Microsoft Excel format (.xlsx) or a tab delimited file (.tab) if the file size is too large for Excel.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Badger Voter's Instruction Manual [link]

Use of the Voter File

Does the state have restrictions on commercial use of the voter file?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Badger Voter's Instruction Manual [link]

Does the state have restrictions on non-commercial use of the voter file?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-05-12)

Badger Voter's Instruction Manual [link]