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How to vote in the 2020 election

2020 is a big election — in many ways the most important in our lifetimes — and it’s critical that registered voters take steps to make sure their votes count. Coronavirus and post office delays have complicated voting in Wisconsin, but it’s still very doable. The key is to start early.

Voter Registration

First, check to make sure you are registered to vote. Even if you think you are registered, even if you’ve voted in every election for decades, it’s important to check to make sure your registration status is correct.

You can check your voter registration status at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyVoterInfo

If you have legally changed your name or moved to a new address, you will need to update your voter record by submitting a new voter registration. You can do that or register to vote for the first time at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/RegisterToVote

Early Voting by Absentee Ballot

You don’t have to wait until Election Day on November 3 to vote. You can vote early through an absentee ballot, which can be delivered in one of several ways. Here’s how.

Request a ballot

Once you know you are registered to vote, you can request that an absentee ballot be sent to you by visiting https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/VoteAbsentee

You will need to provide a copy of your acceptable photo ID with your request if you have not previously provided a copy of your photo ID to the state. A list of acceptable photo IDs can be found at www.bringit.wi.gov.

Technically you have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, to make the request, but we recommend you request your ballot as soon as possible to ensure you get it in plenty of time to return it.

You can also check to make sure your absentee ballot request was received by visiting https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/ViewMyAbsenteeRequest

Fill out your ballot and absentee certificate

You will either have an absentee ballot mailed to you, or you can print a copy of your ballot from an email or fax. If your ballot is sent to you, it will come with two items — the ballot itself and a return envelope which functions as your absentee ballot certificate.

To vote, you’ll need to mark your choices on the ballot. Then fold your filled-out ballot and place it inside the return envelope, but don’t use glue or tape to seal the envelope. Finally, make sure all the voter information on the return envelope is correct, and sign the Certification of Voter section.

If you print out your ballot and absentee ballot certificate, you will vote in the same way on the ballot itself. Next, fold your completed ballot and put it into a plain envelope. Then, fill out and sign the absentee ballot certificate and affix it to the front of the return envelope. Finally, put this envelope into a larger envelope for delivery to your municipal clerk.

If you make a mistake on your ballot, contact your municipal clerk’s office. You can find your municipal clerk at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyMunicipalClerk

Bring a friend

Wisconsin requires absentee voters to have a witness. So before you vote, show the witness your unmarked ballot, and mark the ballot in the presence of your witness. Your witness must see you vote but can’t tell you who to vote for or see the choices you make.

The witness can be a friend, spouse, family member, or neighbor, but must be a U.S. citizen who is at least 18 years old. The witness must sign your absentee ballot certificate in the Certification of Witness section with their name and address.

You can find complete instructions for filling out your absentee ballot here (pdf).

Return your ballot

You can return your ballot in one of four ways:

We recommend that you drop your ballot off personally to either your municipal clerk’s office or a drop box location. You can find a list of drop box locations in your area by calling your municipal clerk.

If you decide to mail in your ballot, the U.S. Postal Service recommends putting it in the mail at least a week before Election Day. However, given slowdowns in mail service, we recommend sending it as soon as possible.

In order to be counted, your ballot must be delivered to your polling place no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Early Voting In Person

If you don’t want to deal with an absentee ballot, you can also vote early in person up to two weeks before Election Day. Each city, village and town in Wisconsin is responsible for setting the dates and hours of in-person absentee voting for their municipality. To find the dates and hours for in-person absentee voting where you live, contact your municipal clerk.

Voting on Election Day

Finally, you can also vote at your polling place on Election Day, which will be Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Wisconsin voters are assigned a polling place based on their residential address. You can find your polling place by visiting https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace

For more information on how to vote in Wisconsin, check these sources:

For a summary of how to vote early by absentee ballot, see the graphic below.

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