Here’s What You Need to Know So Your Vote is Counted
Confirm the envelope from your clerk contains your ballot and the envelope you’ll use to return your ballot.
1 — Read and follow the instructions on your ballot. Mistakes may prevent your votes from being counted.
2 — You must vote your ballot in the presence of an adult witness:
- Start by showing the witness your unmarked ballot.
- Mark your ballot in the presence of your witness.
- Your witness must confirm that you are the one completing your ballot but, because voting is a private activity, your witness cannot tell you who or what to vote for and cannot see the choices you make on your ballot.
Who can be a witness?
- A witness must be a U.S. Citizen who is at least 18 years old.
- For military or overseas voters, your witness must be at least 18 years old but is not required to be a U.S. Citizen.
- A witness can be a friend, spouse, family member, neighbor, etc.
Who cannot be a witness?
- A candidate on the ballot for this election.
If you’re having trouble finding a witness or have questions about the witness requirement, please contact your municipal clerk or the Wisconsin Elections Commission for assistance. Contact information can be found on the back of this page.
3 — Refold your voted ballot and place it inside of the return envelope.
4 — Seal the envelope in the presence of your witness.
5 — Fill out the required sections of the form on the absentee return envelope.
To make sure your ballot is counted, double check the following before you return it:
- Your voter information: this section is usually completed by your clerk and includes the date of the election, the county and municipality in which you are registered, your name, the address where you are registered, city, and zip code.
- Voter Signature: you (or your assistant) must sign in the Certification of Voter section.
- Witness Signature and Address: your witness must sign and provide their full address (street number, street name, city) in the Certification of Witness section.
- Make sure your ballot is in your envelope and make sure the envelope is sealed properly.
If any of the required information above is missing, your ballot will not be counted.
6 — Return your ballot.
- Your ballot must be received in time to be delivered to your polling place no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. There are a few options for returning your ballot.
- Mail it back
- Drop it off at your municipal clerk’s office
- Drop it off at your polling place or central count location
- Drop it off in an absentee ballot drop box (if available)
- The United States Postal Service recommends mailing your ballot at least one week before Election Day. Returning a ballot from overseas may take longer.
Absentee ballots may not be returned by email or fax.
If you need help reading or filling out your ballot or absentee return envelope, you may ask for assistance from anyone who is not your employer or a representative of your labor union. Your assistant may also serve as your witness. Explaining how to fill out your ballot or return envelope is not “assistance.”
With your ballot
- Your assistant must sign in the Certification of Voter Assistance section.
- Your assistant can read your ballot to you or fill out your ballot under your direction, but cannot tell you how to vote.
With your absentee return envelope
- If someone signs your absentee return envelope on your behalf, make sure they also sign in the Certification of Assistant section.
- Your assistant may also serve as your witness.
Correcting Ballot Mistakes
- If you make a mistake while marking your ballot or otherwise require a replacement ballot, contact your municipal clerk. Your municipal clerk’s contact information is listed below.
- If there is not enough time to request a replacement ballot and you have not returned your ballot, you may still vote in-person at the polls on Election Day.
- Different types of voters have different deadlines for requesting a replacement ballot. Please see below for additional details.
5:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the election
- Regular absentee voters
- Permanent overseas voters
- Temporary overseas voters
5:00 p.m. on the Friday before
- Military voters*
- Indefinitely confined voters
* If the ballot contains federal offices, military voters away from home may request replacement ballots until 5:00 p.m. on Election Day
Voter Photo Identification Information
- If you have received your ballot, then a copy of your photo ID is already on file or you are exempt from the requirement. You do not need to provide another copy of photo ID unless instructed by your clerk.
- If you have questions about the photo ID requirement, please contact your municipal clerk.