As campaigns across Wisconsin start to ramp up, so do questions about how voting works in Wisconsin.
Here's what you need to know about casting your votes in 2022.
When is the election this year?
The 2022 fall general election will be held Nov. 8.
On the ballot in the fall will be the governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, state senators in odd-numbered districts, and state representatives. The federal offices on the ballot will be U.S. Senate and U.S. Representatives.
How do I register to vote?
Voters can register in-person at their local municipal clerk's office before the election, or at the polling place the day of the election.
All voters must submit proof of residence when they register, which is a document that proves where you live in Wisconsin — such as a current and valid Wisconsin drivers license or ID card, a paycheck or pay stub, a gas, electric or telephone bill for no earlier than 90 days before the date of registration. For more information about proof of residence, visit elections.wi.gov.
How long do I have to register to vote ahead of the election?
Voters can register online or by mail up to 20 days before the election. Voters who register in person can do so at their municipal clerk's office until 5 p.m. the Friday before the election or at the polling place on Election Day, according to the Elections Commission.
When are absentee ballots mailed out?
Ballots are mailed three weeks before local elections and 47 days before national elections. For those who request absentee ballots within those time frames, ballots are sent out within 24 hours of being requested.
What's the deadline to request an absentee ballot?
In order to receive an absentee ballot, you must request it by 5 p.m. on the Thursday before the election.
If you are a U.S. citizen living or serving in the military overseas, you have until 5 p.m. on the 5th day before the election to make a request. Overseas voters can also receive their ballots electronically, by email or fax, making it easier to vote outside the country, according to the Elections Commission website.
What do I need to request an absentee ballot?
All Wisconsin voters need to show a valid photo ID in order to get their ballot, absentee voters included. In order to obtain an absentee ballot, voters can send in a photo of their valid ID, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, a military ID card or a passport. For those requesting a ballot online, a photo of an ID can be directly uploaded with the request.
For those filling out a request for an absentee ballot on paper, a photocopy of a state ID can be attached to the application.
The only people not required to show an ID when they apply for an absentee ballot are those in the military who permanently live overseas or people who are qualified as a confidential elector. Those who are indefinitely confined or live in a nursing home or care facility also are not required to show ID to obtain an absentee ballot, because the witness' signature satisfies the requirement, according to the Elections Commission website. All other Wisconsinites requesting an absentee ballot need to submit a copy of their ID when they send their request.
What do I use to fill out my ballot?
A black ballpoint pen is the best way to fill out your ballot. A blue pen can be used but isn't recommended. Red, green or yellow shouldn't be used, and neither should permanent markers or highlighters because they can bleed through the paper.
If there's a problem with what a ballot is marked with, two poll workers would have to remark a new ballot, and that takes time when the ballots are being processed on election day.
When should I send my absentee ballot back?
Ballots will take up to seven days to be delivered to voters after a request and could take seven days to get back to the municipal clerk's office to be counted. You should send your ballot back as soon as possible after receiving it.
Can I return my ballot to a drop box?
No. Drop boxes, provided by many municipalities in the 2020 election, have been ruled illegal by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Are there other ways to return my ballot?
Ballots can be returned directly to your municipal clerk's office, according to the Elections Commission website, and can be returned to your polling place or absentee counting location by 8 p.m. on election day, if your municipality allows it. To find the best way to return your ballot, check the specific instructions included with your absentee ballot.
What does my ballot need before I send it back?
After filling out an absentee ballot, you'll need to seal it in the envelope and sign the front. The envelope also requires a signature from a witness who watched you fill out the ballot. The witness must sign the envelope and provide their full address in order to be counted.
The witness who signs your ballot must be a U.S. citizen age 18 or older. Your witness can be your friend, a spouse, a family member, a neighbor or anyone else who is able to watch you fill out your ballot and put it in the envelope. Candidates on the ballot are the only people who are not able to be witnesses.
How do I track my ballot?
Voters can track their ballot after mailing it back on the MyVote.wi.gov website.
The site will show when the absentee ballot is mailed, the anticipated delivery date and when it is received by the clerk when completed.
Can I vote early in person?
You can vote early in person in your municipal clerk's office. Each city, village and town in Wisconsin sets its own hours and dates for in-person absentee voting, but is only an option in the two weeks leading up to an election. To find the hours set by your local clerk, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/mymunicipalclerk.
You will need to show your ID to get your in-person absentee ballot, and you must fill it out in the clerk's office. No ballots may be taken out of the office.
If I send back an absentee ballot, can I still vote in person?
No, you can't.
If a voter requests a ballot, fills it out and sends it back in, that is the vote that will be counted, and the voter cannot request another ballot in person at a polling place.
If a voter requests an absentee ballot but decides they would rather cast their vote in person, poll workers will be able to cancel that absentee ballot. Also, if an issue is detected with the mailing process, like a ballot sitting in a sorting center for too long, the absentee ballot can be canceled and reissued.
Laura Schulte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @SchulteLaura.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: How to register to vote, request absentee ballot in Wisconsin