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Do You Know How to Vote?

You need a photo ID on Nov. 8

Nov. 1, 2016
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With all of the changes surrounding voting requirements for the Nov. 8 general election, it’s easy to get confused or discouraged about your right to vote.

But remember: You have a right to vote and you should use it.

You do need to take a few steps to ensure that you are able to vote in this election. But it isn’t that difficult and you can ask for help along the way. Here is what you need to ask before casting a ballot in this election: 

Are you eligible? 

If you are a U.S. citizen 18 or older on Nov. 8, 2016, and have lived in Wisconsin for at least 10 days, you are eligible to vote in Wisconsin. But, if you have been convicted of a felony and are still on probation or parole on Election Day, you cannot vote in this election. Once you are off probation or parole, you are fully entitled to vote. For more information about eligibility, go to elections.wi.gov/voters or myvote.wi.gov/en-us/ or call the state’s toll-free voter help line at 1-866-VOTE-WIS (1-888-868-3947). En Español: myvote.wi.gov/es-es

Are you registered?

You can check your registration status at myvote.wi.gov (en Español: myvote.wi.gov/es-es) or by calling the state’s toll-free voter help line at 1-866-VOTE-WIS (1-888-868-3947).

In general, if you have previously voted at your current residence, you are registered to vote. If you have not voted at your current residence, which is defined as your place of residence for 10 days prior to the election, you must register. You can register to vote in advance of the election or on Election Day. You need to provide proof of residency, such as a current and valid Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID, a utility bill sent to your current address, or a lease, bank statement or paycheck stub. If you have not lived at your current address for 10 days, you may vote at your previous Wisconsin residence.

If you have changed your name since you last voted and have IDs with your new name that you are going to use to vote—for example, you got married, changed your name and updated your driver’s license with your married name—then you need to register with your current name.

You can register to vote with the help of a special registration deputy, at your municipal clerk’s office up until 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, or at your polling place on Election Day. For more information about registering to vote, go to elections.wi.gov/voters or myvote.wi.gov/en-us/ or call the state’s toll-free voter help line at 1-866-VOTE-WIS (1-888-868-3947). En Español: myvote.wi.gov/es-es.

Do you have an acceptable voter ID?

Unless you are specifically exempt from showing an ID to vote (for example, if you are casting an absentee ballot and live in a nursing home or if you are in the military or permanently live overseas), you must show an acceptable photo ID to cast a ballot.

Acceptable IDs include a Wisconsin-issued driver’s license or ID card, a military ID card, a U.S. passport, an ID card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin and some university IDs. These IDs can be used if they are unexpired or have expired after Nov. 4, 2014. You can also use a certificate of naturalization that was issued within the past two years, or a driving receipt or ID card receipt issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (valid for 45 days) or a temporary ID card receipt from the state DOT through the ID petition process (valid for 180 days). For more information about photo IDs for voting, go to bringitwisconsin.com or call the state’s toll-free voter help line at 1-866-VOTE-WIS (1-888-868-3947). En Español: bringitwisconsin.com/informacion-en-espanol.

What if you don’t have an acceptable ID to vote?

The good news is that you still have time to get one before the Nov. 8 election, but it would be smart to start working on that now. You can get a free ID card to vote at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office with just one trip to the DMV.

To obtain an ID, gather up some documents to prove your identity. Do you have a driver’s license or ID card from another state? Your birth certificate? A certified copy of your marriage certificate or judgment of divorce? A Social Security card? A Medicaid/Medicare card? Military discharge papers? Employee photo ID cards? A paycheck, pay stub, utility bill or any other piece of mail with your name and address on it? If so, take as much documentation you have to the DMV office. To find a DMV office, go to bringitwisconsin.com or call 844-588-1069. En Español: bringitwisconsin.com/informacion-en-español. The state will give you a receipt when you apply for the ID, which you can use to vote if you don’t receive the actual ID by Election Day. But don’t wait until the last minute to obtain your ID.

For help obtaining an ID free of charge, contact Vote Riders at voteriders.org, call 414-882-8622 or 608-729-7720 or email info@voteriders.org

Who is on the ballot?

You can check out a sample ballot at myvote.wi.gov. En Español: myvote.wi.gov/es-es.

When can you vote? 

You can vote early by mailing in an absentee ballot or voting with an absentee ballot at specially designated locations. The City of Milwaukee is offering in-person absentee voting for all city voters through Friday, Nov. 4, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Registered voters may also vote on Saturday, Nov. 5, from noon to 5 p.m. The city’s early voting locations are the Zeidler Municipal Building (830 N. Market St. for registered voters and 841 N. Broadway for registration and voting), Midtown Center (North 56th Street and West Capitol Drive) and the Forest Home Library (1432 W. Forest Home Ave.). For more details about voting in the City of Milwaukee, go to city.milwaukee.gov/election or call 414-286-3491. If you don’t live in Milwaukee, contact your local municipal clerk for early voting details.

If you are voting absentee by mail, you must request a ballot from your local municipal clerk by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3. Contact your local clerk for more details.

Polls are open on Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can register to vote if you need to do so. Bring a photo ID to cast a ballot. You will also be asked to state your name and address and sign the poll book.

If you don’t have an acceptable ID on Election Day, you can cast a provisional ballot but you will be required to provide an ID by 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, if you want your ballot to be counted.

What if I’m feeling confused or intimidated at the polls on Election Day?

Poll workers will help you if you are confused about how to vote or what’s on the ballot. But you cannot be intimidated or harassed by poll watchers or poll workers. If you have a complaint about what’s happening at your polling place, report problems immediately at elections.wi.gov/complaints, or call 1-866-VOTE-WIS. Or you can contact the nonpartisan, nonprofit Wisconsin Election Protection at 866ourvote.org or 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) or like them on Facebook. En Espanol: 866-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682). Asian languages: 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683).


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