The election is Nov. 3, and it will have the presidential candidates of both major parties on the ballot. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
I’m confused. How do I vote?
You can vote at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3, but some are worried about long lines or other issues. You can generally vote early in person at your municipality’s offices – more on that below – or you can vote absentee without ever visiting municipal offices. To obtain an absentee ballot or for other questions on voting, visit the official Wisconsin site MyVote.Wi.gov. Or contact your local city, village or town clerk with any questions about voting. Here is a sampling of clerk’s offices:
Bayside, (414) 206-3915; Brown Deer, (414) 371-3050; Fox Point, (414) 351-8900; Glendale, (414) 228-1718; Green Bay, (920) 448-3010; Town of Grafton, (262) 377-8500; Village of Grafton, (262) 375-5300; Madison, (608) 266-4601; Mequon, (262) 236-2914; Milwaukee, (414) 286-2221; River Hills, (414) 352-8213; Shorewood, (414) 847-2700; and Whitefish Bay, (414) 962-6690.
How do I turn in my absentee ballot?
You can mail it in, though some have expressed nervousness about postal deliveries. It must arrive by Election Day. Many municipalities have drop boxes for completed absentee ballots, which are often at city hall, the clerk’s office or a library. Call your municipal clerk for more information or check online. When searching online, use the search words “clerk” and the name of your municipality – but don’t click on the clerk of courts. You simply want the village, town or city clerk’s office.
What about early voting?
You can generally vote absentee at your local municipal clerk’s office. This is called early voting. Check with your clerk for more details on early voting.
What if I don’t want to use my absentee ballot?
Even if you have already requested an absentee ballot or have one, you can still vote in person. Poll workers check to make sure you have not already voted. You do not need to bring in an absentee ballot, even if you requested one, with you to vote in person, according to Wisconsin election officials.
I live alone. How can I have my absentee ballot witnessed?
Do you need a volunteer witness for your absentee ballot? Tikkun Ha-Ir Milwaukee is ready to send a volunteer to witness a signature on an absentee ballot, from outside a home with social distancing and mask wearing. Contact Sami Stein Avner of Tikkun Ha-Ir Milwaukee at 414-501-3618 or Sami@THI-Milwaukee.org when you have your ballot and are ready for a volunteer witness.
Here are some more frequently asked questions, answered by the Wisconsin Election Commission.
What is an absentee ballot?
Not all voters can get to the polling place on election day. 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?
Any qualified elector who registers to vote. (A qualified elector is a United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, who has resided in the district in which he or she intends to vote for at least 28 days.)
How does a voter request an absentee ballot?
The absentee ballot request is made to the municipal clerk in writing using the Application For Absentee Ballot (EL-121) or by letter or email to your municipal clerk requesting an absentee ballot which provides substantially the same information required on the application form.
You can find your municipal clerk on the MyVote Wisconsin website: MyVote.WI.gov by searching for your voter record or performing an address search.
You will need to provide a copy of your acceptable photo ID with your absentee ballot request. More information about the photo ID requirement can be found at BringIt.Wi.Gov.
Are absentee ballots ever rejected?
Yes. Along with meeting all the usual requirements, voters who vote by absentee ballot must follow special rules in completing and signing the certificate on the ballot envelope, and having the certificate witnessed.
If any of these rules aren’t followed, election officials at the polling place must reject the absentee ballot. These rules replace the safeguards normally present when a voter appears in person at the polling place.
What are the deadlines for making an absentee ballot request?
If the request is made by mail by a regular voter, it must be in the office of the municipal clerk no later than 5 p.m. on the Thursday preceding an election.
If the request is a calendar year request, it can be made until 5 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election.
If the request is made in-person, the deadline is the last day that the clerk is offering in-person absentee voting.
Special provisions are made for hospitalized electors and sequestered jurors to request and vote by absentee ballot on election day.
Can a power of attorney complete an application for absentee ballot for an elector?
Yes. A Power of Attorney can request an absentee ballot for an elector. No person (not even a POA) may “vote” a ballot for another elector. If the elector requires assistance in completing the ballot, the elector may designate another person to assist the elector in marking the ballot.* In the presence of the elector, the ballot is marked according to the elector’s direction. The assisting elector must sign their name on the ballot under the section entitled “Signature of Assisting Individual.”
*The assisting elector cannot be the elector’s employer or an agent of that employer or an officer or agent of a labor organization which represents the elector. S. 6.82(2)(a), Wis. Stats. 3/12/2003