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October 29, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions about Voting

With the November 6th election fast approaching, here are answers to some questions we get at the library. Wisconsin residents can check on their voting status, view sample ballots, and locate their polling place on the Wisconsin Voter Information website (https://myvote.wi.gov/).

To get ready for November 6th, check out the Government Accountability Board's (GAB)  Election Day Voting Guide

Do I need an ID to vote?

Currently no photo identification is required to vote.

From the GAB's FAQ:
Voter Photo ID provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 are currently enjoined orders of by two Wisconsin circuit courts. Those decisions have been appealed by the Attorney General, but until they are resolved, no photo ID is required to receive a ballot in Wisconsin.

When and where can I register to vote?

Check the GAB guide on registering to vote for general information and start the process of registering. Wisconsin residents can start the registration process at https://myvote.wi.gov/ by using the registration form wizard. You can also contact your local city clerk's office or register at your polling place on November 6th. If you intend to register at the clerk's office, be aware that registration at the clerk's office ends the Friday before the election at 5:00 p.m. or close of business, whichever is later. With the election next week, proof of residence will be required to register at the clerk's office or at your polling place.

The GAB has compiled a voter registration deadlines guide for the upcoming election.

Can I vote early?

See this GAB information page, What Are The Deadlines for Making an Absentee Ballot Request?, and learn more about absentee ballots from their main FAQ page.

By mail: request must be received in the office of the municipal clerk no later than 5 pm on the Thursday preceding an election.

In-person: a request made in person at the clerk's office may be made until 5 pm on the Friday preceeding the election.

Hospitalized electors and sequestered jurors have further options, and can learn more by contacting their local municipal clerk.

How are active military members voting?

There are a few ways that military members can request and complete ballots. Those methods are outlined on the GAB military voters information page. There is also a special starting page for military and overseas voters on the https://myvote.wi.gov/ website.

I just moved. Can I still vote?

According to the GAB voter registration guide,
Voters who will reside at their address for at least 28 days by Election Day are eligible to vote.
Voters who have moved within Wisconsin less than 28 days before the election must vote from
their previous address, either by absentee ballot or at the polling place. Voters who have moved
to Wisconsin from another state less than 28 days before an election are only eligible to vote in
Presidential elections.
For those newly arrived in Wisconsin, learn more about obtaining a presidential ballot from the instructions on page 2 of the GAB form for Application for presidential ballot - new Wisconsin resident, or contact your local municipal clerk for more information.

What determines the order of names on a ballot?

The rules for the order of names on ballots for president can be found in Wisconsin Statute 5.64.
The party candidates shall be arranged consecutively from top to bottom based on the number of votes received by their party's candidate for governor at the last election beginning with the party that received the most votes. The independent president-vice president candidates shall be listed together in an order drawn by lot by or under supervision of the board, following under the party candidates. Along with the names of the independent candidates shall appear the party or principle of the candidates, if any, in 5 words or less, as shown on their nomination papers. Following under the independent candidates, a space shall be left for writing in the names of a candidate for president and vice president.- Wisconsin Statute 5.64(1)(es)
See also, the GAB's How is the order of candidates' names appearing on the ballot determined?

If I register to vote, am I also signing up for jury duty?

No. Jury duty rosters are pulled from the WI Dept. of Motor Vehicles records, not from voting registrations. If you have a Wisconsin drivers license or state ID, then you will be in the DMV's records.

Can convicted felons vote? In Wisconsin? Elsewhere?

The US Justice Department publishes a book called Civil Disabilities of Conviction Felons: A State by State Survey. This book covers not only voting restoration but other rights, such as sitting on a jury and holding public office.  Firearm possession is also covered.
According to this book, "the effect of a federal felony conviction upon the right to vote is determined by the law of the state in which the felon seeks to vote, and thus varies from state to state.

In Wisconsin, a convicted felon may vote after serving all time - prison, probation / parole.  ProCon.org provides a state-by-state chart and is more up-to-date then the USDOJ publication.

Can the election be postponed due to the hurricane?

See our recent blog post on that topic: Can the election be postponed due to the hurricane?

Where can I learn more?

For more helpful FAQ's, see the GAB's page on the topic: http://gab.wi.gov/faq

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