Any number of issues could come up when one goes to cast a ballot. Knowing voting rights is critical to ensuring one’s right to vote.
Review state voting laws below as provided by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Need to register to vote online, go to MyVote.WI.gov. If you prefer to register in-person you can register in-person in your municipal clerk’s office up until the Friday before the election or at your polling place on Election Day.
Am I allowed to vote in Wisconsin? In Wisconsin, you can register and vote if:
- You’re a U.S. citizen;
- You’ll be 18 or older on Election Day;
- You will have been a Wisconsin resident for at least 28 days on Election Day (you may vote in the presidential election after 10 days of residency.
- A court hasn’t taken away your right to vote because you are incompetent; and
- You’re not currently in jail or prison, or on probation, parole, or extended supervision, for a felony (or for any treason or bribery conviction).
I was convicted of a misdemeanor. Can I vote?
- If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor (except for misdemeanor treason or bribery), you do not lose your right to vote.
- This means you can vote even if you are in jail or prison, or “on paper” (on probation, parole or extended supervision) for a misdemeanor.
I was convicted of a felony. Can I vote?
- If you have been convicted of a felony (or any treason or bribery crime), you can vote after you have finished your sentence and are “off paper” (off probation, parole or extended supervision).
- If you’re not sure if you are “off paper,” ask your parole/probation officer.
Do I have to get a pardon or permission from the government to vote, once I’m “off paper” for my felony?
- You do NOT have to get a pardon to get your voting rights back. Your voting rights are automatically restored as soon as you complete your felony sentence and are “off paper.”
I’ve been charged with a felony, but I haven’t been convicted yet. Can I vote?
- If you have been charged with a felony but not yet convicted, you can vote.
- If you’ve been convicted of a felony but haven’t been sentenced, you cannot vote.
I am in jail. Can I vote?
- Maybe. If you’re in jail for a misdemeanor, or if you’re in jail because you’re waiting for your trial but haven’t been convicted yet, you can vote. (If you’re in jail and you’ve been convicted of a felony, you cannot vote.)
- Persons who are in jail and are eligible to vote can apply to vote absentee by mail.
Is there anything else I have to do to vote in Wisconsin?
- You have to register to vote. Even if you were registered before you were convicted of a felony, you have to register again.
- Most voters need to get “photo ID” to vote.
Proof of Residence for Voter Registration
- A current and valid WI driver’s license or WI photo ID card.
- Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit.
- A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
- A utility bill for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before registering.
- A bank or credit card statement.
- A paycheck or pay stub.
- A check or other document issued by any government agency or public school.
- Homeless voters can prove their voting address with an affidavit from a social service agency.
- A residential lease valid on date of registration (not valid if registering by mail).
- A university or college ID card if accompanied by a fee statement for the current semester.
Voters who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking may have the option for a confidential listing in the poll book. Eligible individuals include:
- An individual who has been granted a protective order that is in effect related to either domestic abuse or harassment.
- An individual who is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking where a person has been charged with or convicted of such an offense and where the individual reasonably continues to be threatened by that person.
- An individual who resides in a shelter.
- An individual who has received services from a domestic abuse or sexual assault victim services provider within the last 24 months.
An eligible person may request a confidential listing by submitting a Request for Confidential Listing (EL-146) to their municipal clerk along with one of the following:
- A copy of a protective order that is still in effect.
- A completed Affidavit of Sheriff, Chief of Police, or District Attorney (EL-147), dated within 30 days of the date of the request.
- A statement signed by the operator or an authorized agent of the operator of a shelter that is dated within 30 days of the date of the request, which indicates that the operator operates the shelter and that the individual making the request resides in the shelter.
- A statement signed by an authorized representative of a domestic abuse victim service provider or a sexual assault victim service provider that is dated within 30 days of the date of the request.
- Confirmation from the Wisconsin Department of Justice that the requester is a participant in the Safe at Home address confidentiality program.
All Wisconsin voters have a right to cast a ballot privately and independently at their polling place on Election Day. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is committed to ensuring that all polling places in Wisconsin are accessible to all voters. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires that every polling place in the State of Wisconsin meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards.
You can have an assistant when completing a voter registration application or absentee application. After completing the application, the assistor must then sign the form in the appropriate box and provide any additional required information. Explaining how to complete the form is not “assistance”.
Voting & Election Day
Voters have multiple options to receive assistance with their voting process. All Wisconsin voters are eligible to request a by mail absentee ballot for any reason. Voters may also indicate indefinitely confined status, due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability and receive ballots for every election until they fail to return a ballot or indicate a change in status. Voters who receive assistance while absentee voting must have the assistor sign the absentee certificate envelope. All voters must also obtain a witness for their voting process who signs the absentee certificate envelope and provides their address. The assistor may also serve as the witness.
Voters voting at the polling place in Wisconsin are required to sign the poll list before receiving a ballot. You are exempt from this requirement if you cannot sign the poll list because of physical disability. The election inspectors will write “exempt by order of inspectors” in the signature line and issue you a ballot.
If you need help marking your ballot on Election Day, you may take anyone you choose with you into the voting booth, except your employer or your labor union representative. After you have marked your ballot, the person helping you must then sign the ballot in the space provided. Also, the election workers will write the name of your assistor on the voting list. Your assistor does not need to be qualified to vote.
You can request help with the accessible voting equipment. Anyone who helps you with a direct-recording electronic accessible voting machine (Edge, iVotronic, Populex or Accuvote) should position themselves behind the machine so that they cannot see how you vote. They are allowed to explain how the equipment works but cannot assist you with making your ballot choices.
- All polling places must have accessible voting machines available for use at the polling place on election day.
- All polling places must also fulfill any requests from voters wishing to vote curbside, or voting without leaving your vehicle.
- Voters may also request accommodations from their local municipal clerk. These accommodations are confidential.
Curbside voting is for people who are unable to enter the polling place due to disability, which includes being immunocompromised or having symptoms of COVID-19.
Your polling place should have a procedure to allow you to indicate that you need to curbside vote. Your polling place may have signs outside with a phone number, specific parking spots to park in for curbside, a doorbell to ring for curbside, or a greeter outside to initiate this process. Please note that any voter who is immunocompromised, was exposed to or has symptoms of COVID-19, or has a disability must be allowed to curbside vote.
- Contact your municipal clerk by searching here prior to Election Day. Your clerk can explain their curbside voting procedures, or possibly set up a time to meet you outside with your ballot.
- You will be asked to confirm that you are unable to enter the polling place due to disability. The Wisconsin Elections Commission affirmed that being immunocompromised or having symptoms of COVID-19 are included in this status.
- After affirming, you will be asked to provide a photo ID. You can show the ID through your car window and the poll worker can read it through the glass. You will not sign the poll book.
- The poll worker will get your ballot and allow you to vote from your vehicle. It is recommended that you open your window just enough that a ballot can be slid through to promote social distancing. You will be provided with a privacy sleeve to place your ballot in after voting.
- The poll worker will bring your ballot inside and insert it into the ballot box or tabulator.