Absent elector; definition.
An absent elector is any otherwise qualified elector who for any reason is unable or unwilling to appear at the polling place in his or her ward. Any otherwise qualified elector who changes residence within this state by moving to a different ward or municipality later than 10 days prior to an election may vote an absentee ballot in the ward or municipality where he or she was qualified to vote before moving. An elector qualifying under this section may vote by absentee ballot under ss. 6.86
Voter residency and absentee voting is discussed. 60 Atty. Gen. 214.
Methods for obtaining an absentee ballot. 6.86(1)(a)(a)
Any elector, qualifying under ss. 6.20
as an absent elector, may make written application to the municipal clerk for an official ballot by one of the following methods:
In person at the office of the municipal clerk.
An elector who is unable to write his or her name due to physical disability may authorize an application to be made by another elector on his or her behalf. In such case, the application shall state that it is made on request and by authorization of a named elector who is unable to sign the application due to physical disability.
Except as authorized in s. 6.875 (6)
, the municipal clerk shall not issue an absentee ballot unless the clerk receives a written application therefor from a qualified elector of the municipality. The clerk shall retain each absentee ballot application until destruction is authorized under s. 7.23 (1)
Except as provided in this section, if application is made in writing, the application, signed by the elector, shall be received no later than 5 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding the election. If application is made in person, the application shall be made no later than 5 p.m. on the day preceding the election. If the elector is making written application and the application indicates that the reason for requesting an absentee ballot is that the elector is a sequestered juror, the application shall be received no later than 5 p.m. on election day. If the application is received after 5 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding the election, the municipal clerk or the clerk's agent shall immediately take the ballot to the court in which the elector is serving as a juror and deposit it with the judge. The judge shall recess court, as soon as convenient, and give the elector the ballot. The judge shall then witness the voting procedure as provided in s. 6.87
and shall deliver the ballot to the clerk or agent of the clerk who shall deliver it to the polling place as required in s. 6.88
. If application is made under sub. (2)
, the application may be received no later than 5 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding the election.
An elector who is indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity or is disabled for an indefinite period may by signing a statement to that effect require that an absentee ballot be sent to the elector automatically for every election. The application form and instructions shall be prescribed by the board, and furnished upon request to any elector by each municipality. The envelope containing the absentee ballot shall be clearly marked as not forwardable. If any elector is no longer indefinitely confined, the elector shall so notify the municipal clerk.
The mailing list established under this subsection shall be kept current through all possible means. If an elector fails to cast and return an absentee ballot received under this subsection, the clerk shall notify the elector by 1st class letter or postcard that his or her name will be removed from the mailing list unless the clerk receives a renewal of the application within 30 days of the notification. The clerk shall remove from the list the name of each elector who does not apply for renewal within the 30-day period. The clerk shall remove the name of any other elector from the list upon request of the elector or upon receipt of reliable information that an elector no longer qualifies for the service. The clerk shall notify the elector of such action not taken at the elector's request within 5 days, if possible.
Any elector who is registered, or otherwise qualified where registration is not required, and who is hospitalized, may apply for and obtain an official ballot by agent. The agent may apply for and obtain a ballot for the hospitalized absent elector by presenting a form prescribed by the board and containing the required information supplied by the hospitalized elector and signed by that elector and any other elector residing in the same municipality as the hospitalized elector, corroborating the information contained therein. The corroborating elector shall state on the form his or her full name and address.
If a hospitalized elector is not registered where registration is required, the elector may register by agent under this subdivision at the same time that the elector applies for an official ballot by agent under subd. 1.
To register the elector under this subdivision, the agent shall present a completed registration form that contains the required information supplied by the elector and the elector's signature, unless the elector is unable to sign due to physical disability. In this case, the elector may authorize another elector to sign on his or her behalf. Any elector signing a form on another elector's behalf shall attest to a statement that the application is made on request and by authorization of the named elector, who is unable to sign the form due to physical disability. The agent shall present this statement along with all other information required under this subdivision. Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, the agent shall in every case present acceptable proof of the elector's residence under s. 6.55 (7)
. If the agent cannot present this proof, the registration form shall be signed and substantiated by another elector residing in the elector's municipality of residence, corroborating the information in the form. The form shall contain the full name and address of the corroborating elector. The agent shall then present acceptable proof of the corroborating elector's residence under s. 6.55 (7)
When each properly executed form and statement required under par. (a)
is presented to the municipal clerk, if the elector who proposes to vote is qualified, an absentee ballot shall be issued and the name of such hospitalized elector shall be recorded by the clerk or special registration deputy. An agent who is issued an absentee ballot under this section shall present identification, provide his or her name and address, and attest to a statement that the ballot is received solely for the benefit of a named elector who is hospitalized, and the agent will promptly transmit the ballot to such person.
An application under par. (a) 1.
may be made and a registration form under par. (a) 2.
may be filed in person at the office of the municipal clerk not earlier than 7 days before an election and not later than 5 p.m. on the day of the election. A list of hospitalized electors applying for ballots under par. (a) 1.
shall be made by the municipal clerk and used to check that the electors vote only once, and by absentee ballot. The ballot shall be sealed by the elector and returned to the municipal clerk either by mail or by personal delivery of the agent; but if the ballot is returned on the day of the election, the agent shall make personal delivery at the polling place serving the hospitalized elector's residence before the closing hour for the ballot to be counted.
If a municipality employs an electronic voting system which utilizes a ballot that is inserted into automatic tabulating equipment, the municipality may distribute ballots for utilization with the electronic voting system as absentee ballots or it may distribute paper ballots as absentee ballots.
Whenever an elector returns a spoiled or damaged absentee ballot to the municipal clerk, or an elector's agent under sub. (3)
returns a spoiled or damaged ballot to the clerk on behalf of an elector, and the clerk believes that the ballot was issued to or on behalf of the elector who is returning it, the clerk shall issue a new ballot to the elector or elector's agent, and shall destroy the spoiled or damaged ballot. Any request for a replacement ballot under this subsection must be made within the applicable time limits under subs. (1)
and (3) (c)
History: 1975 c. 85
; 1975 c. 90
; 1977 c. 394
; 1979 c. 232
; 1981 c. 391
; 1983 a. 183
; 1985 a. 304
; 1987 a. 391
; 1995 a. 313
; 1999 a. 182
; 2001 a. 51
The sub. (1) (ar) requirement that an elector must apply for an absentee ballot is mandatory. The ballots of absentee voters who do not file a written application must not be included in certified election results. Lee v. Paulson, 2001 WI App 19, 241 Wis. 2d 38
, 623 N.W.2d 577
Federal postcard request form.
A federal postcard registration and absentee ballot request form may be used to apply for an absentee ballot under s. 6.86 (1)
if the form is completed in such manner that the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners with whom it is filed is able to determine that the applicant is an elector of this state and of the ward or election district where the elector seeks to vote.
History: 1989 a. 192
; 1999 a. 182
Absent voting procedure. 6.87(1)
Upon proper request made within the period prescribed in s. 6.86
, the municipal clerk or a deputy clerk authorized by the municipal clerk shall write on the official ballot, in the space for official endorsement, the clerk's initials and official title.
Except as authorized under sub. (3) (d)
, the municipal clerk shall place the ballot in an unsealed envelope furnished by the clerk. The envelope shall have the name, official title and post-office address of the clerk upon its face. The other side of the envelope shall have a printed certificate in substantially the following form:
[STATE OF ....
County of ....]
[(name of foreign country and city or other jurisdictional unit)]
I, ...., certify subject to the penalties of s. 12.60 (1) (b)
, Wis. Stats., for false statements, that I am a resident of the [.... ward of the] (town) (village) of ...., or of the .... aldermanic district in the city of ...., residing at ....* in said city, the county of ...., state of Wisconsin, and am entitled to vote in the (ward) (election district) at the election to be held on ....; that I am not voting at any other location in this election; that I am unable or unwilling to appear at the polling place in the (ward) (election district) on election day or have changed my residence within the state from one ward or election district to another within 10 days before the election. I certify that I exhibited the enclosed ballot unmarked to the witness, that I then in (his) (her) presence and in the presence of no other person marked the ballot and enclosed and sealed the same in this envelope in such a manner that no one but myself and any person rendering assistance under s. 6.87 (5)
, Wis. Stats., if I requested assistance, could know how I voted.
Identification serial number, if any: ....
The witness shall execute the following:
I, the undersigned witness, subject to the penalties of s. 12.60 (1) (b)
, Wis. Stats., for false statements, certify that the above statements are true and the voting procedure was executed as there stated. I am not a candidate for any office on the enclosed ballot (except in the case of an incumbent municipal clerk). I did not solicit or advise the elector to vote for or against any candidate or measure.
* — An elector who provides an identification serial number issued under s. 6.47 (3)
, Wis. Stats., need not provide a street address.
** — If this form is executed before 2 special voting deputies under s. 6.875 (6)
, Wis. Stats., both deputies shall witness and sign.
Except as authorized under par. (d)
and as otherwise provided in s. 6.875
, the municipal clerk shall mail the absentee ballot postage prepaid for return to the elector's residence unless otherwise directed, or shall deliver it to the elector personally at the clerk's office.
No elector may direct that a ballot be sent to the address of a candidate, political party or other registrant under s. 11.05
unless the elector permanently or temporarily resides at that address. Upon receipt of reliable information that an address given by an elector is not eligible to receive ballots under this paragraph, the municipal clerk shall refrain from sending ballots to that address. Whenever possible, the municipal clerk shall notify an elector if his or her ballot cannot be mailed to the address directed by the elector.
If an elector's ballot is mailed to a location other than the elector's residence, it shall be prepaid for return when mailed within the United States. If the ballot is delivered to the elector at the clerk's office, the ballot shall be voted at the office and may not be removed therefrom.
A municipal clerk of a municipality may, if the clerk is reliably informed by an absent elector of a facsimile transmission number or electronic mail address where the elector can receive an absentee ballot, transmit a facsimile or electronic copy of the absent elector's ballot to that elector in lieu of mailing under this subsection if, in the judgment of the clerk, the time required to send the ballot through the mail may not be sufficient to enable return of the ballot by the time provided under sub. (6)
. An elector may receive an absentee ballot under this subsection only if the elector has filed a valid application for the ballot under sub. (1)
. If the clerk transmits an absentee ballot under this paragraph, the clerk shall also transmit a facsimile or electronic copy of the text of the material that appears on the certificate envelope prescribed in sub. (2)
, together with instructions prescribed by the board. The instructions shall require the absent elector to make and subscribe to the certification as required under sub. (4)
and to enclose the absentee ballot in a separate envelope contained within a larger envelope, that shall include the completed certificate. The elector shall then mail the absentee ballot with postage prepaid to the municipal clerk. An absentee ballot received under this paragraph shall not be counted unless it is cast in the manner prescribed in this paragraph and in accordance with the instructions provided by the board.
Except as otherwise provided in s. 6.875
, the elector voting absentee shall make and subscribe to the certification before one witness. The absent elector, in the presence of the witness, shall mark the ballot in a manner that will not disclose how the elector's vote is cast. The elector shall then, still in the presence of the witness, fold the ballots if they are paper ballots so each is separate and so that the elector conceals the markings thereon and deposit them in the proper envelope. If a consolidated ballot under s. 5.655
is used, the elector shall fold the ballot if it is a paper ballot so that the elector conceals the markings thereon and deposit the ballot in the proper envelope. The elector may receive assistance under sub. (5)
. The return envelope shall then be sealed. The witness may not be a candidate. The envelope shall be mailed by the elector, postage prepaid, or delivered in person, to the municipal clerk issuing the ballot or ballots. Failure to return an unused ballot in a primary does not invalidate the ballot on which the elector's votes are cast. Return of more than one marked ballot in a primary or return of a ballot prepared under s. 5.655
or a ballot used with an electronic voting system in a primary which is marked for candidates of more than one party invalidates all votes cast by the elector for candidates in the primary.
If the absent elector declares that he or she is unable to read, has difficulty in reading, writing or understanding English or due to disability is unable to mark his or her ballot, the elector may select any individual, except the elector's employer or an agent of that employer or an officer or agent of a labor organization which represents the elector, to assist in marking the ballot, and the assistant shall then sign his or her name to a certification on the back of the ballot, as provided under s. 5.55
The ballot shall be returned so it is received by the municipal clerk in time for delivery to the polls before the closing hour. Any ballot not mailed or delivered as provided in this subsection may not be counted.
Except as authorized in s. 6.47 (8)
, the municipal clerk shall withhold from public inspection under s. 19.35 (1)
the name and address of any absent elector who obtains a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
No individual who is a candidate at the election in which absentee ballots are cast may serve as a witness. Any candidate who serves as a witness shall be penalized by the discounting of a number of votes for his or her candidacy equal to the number of certificate envelopes bearing his or her signature.
The provisions of this section which prohibit candidates from serving as a witness for absentee electors shall not apply to the municipal clerk in the performance of the clerk's official duties.
If a municipal clerk receives an absentee ballot with an improperly completed certificate or with no certificate, the clerk may return the ballot to the elector, inside the sealed envelope when an envelope is received, together with a new envelope if necessary, whenever time permits the elector to correct the defect and return the ballot within the period prescribed in sub. (6)
The directions in sub. (3) for mailing or personal delivery of an absentee ballot and in sub. (6) that a ballot not mailed or delivered as provided in the section should not be counted, are directory and not mandatory. Lanser v. Koconis, 62 Wis. 2d 86
, 214 N.W.2d 425
Sub. (4), which prescribes that the absentee voter shall either make and subscribe to the affidavit or to the certification, is directory and not mandatory, and voters printing their names constituted substantial, albeit nontechnical compliance with the statute's requirements. Lanser v. Koconis, 62 Wis. 2d 86
, 214 N.W.2d 425
A challenge of compliance with procedures for absent voting is within the board of canvasser's jurisdiction. Absent connivance, fraud or undue influence, substantial compliance with statutory voting procedures is sufficient. Appeal From Recount in Election Contest, 105 Wis. 2d 468
, 313 N.W.2d 869
(Ct. App. 1981).
Absentee voting in nursing and retirement homes and certain community-based residential facilities. 6.875(1)(a)
"Community-based residential facility" has the meaning given in s. 50.01 (1g)
, except that the term does not include a place where fewer than 10 adults who are not related to the operator or administrator reside.
"Nursing home" means a facility occupied by 10 or more unrelated individuals for the primary purpose of obtaining full-time personal or nursing care which is necessitated by their physical or mental conditions, but does not include a hospital.
"Qualified community-based residential facility" means a community-based residential facility that qualifies under sub. (2) (b)
to utilize the procedures under this section.
"Qualified retirement home" means a retirement home that qualifies under sub. (2) (c)
to utilize the procedures under this section.
"Relative" means a spouse or individual related within the 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree of kinship under s. 990.001 (16)
"Retirement home" means a facility occupied as a primary place of abode by 10 or more unrelated individuals.
The procedures prescribed in this section are the exclusive means of absentee voting for electors who are occupants of nursing homes, qualified community-based residential facilities or qualified retirement homes.
The municipal clerk or board of election commissioners of any municipality where a community-based residential facility home is located may adopt the procedures under this section for absentee voting in any community-based residential facility located in the municipality if the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners finds that a significant number of the occupants of the community-based residential facility lack adequate transportation to the appropriate polling place, a significant number of the occupants of the community-based residential facility may need assistance in voting, there are a significant number of the occupants of the community-based residential facility aged 60 or over, or there are a significant number of indefinitely confined electors who are occupants of the community-based residential facility.
The municipal clerk or board of election commissioners of any municipality where a retirement home is located may adopt the procedures under this section for absentee voting in any retirement home located in the municipality if the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners finds that a significant number of the occupants of the retirement home lack adequate transportation to the appropriate polling place, a significant number of the occupants of the retirement home may need assistance in voting, there are a significant number of the occupants of the retirement home aged 60 or over, or there are a significant number of indefinitely confined electors who are occupants of the retirement home.
An occupant of a nursing home or qualified retirement home or qualified community-based residential facility who qualifies as an absent elector and desires to receive an absentee ballot shall make application under s. 6.86 (1)
with the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners of the municipality in which the elector is a resident. The clerk or board of election commissioners of a municipality receiving an application from an elector who is an occupant of a nursing home or qualified retirement home or qualified community-based residential facility located in a different municipality shall, as soon as possible, notify and transmit an absentee ballot for the elector to the clerk or board of election commissioners of the municipality in which the home or qualified community-based residential facility is located. The clerk or board of election commissioners of a municipality receiving an application from an elector who is an occupant of a nursing home or qualified retirement home or qualified community-based residential facility located in the municipality but who is a resident of a different municipality shall, as soon as possible, notify and request transmission of an absentee ballot from the clerk or board of election commissioners of the municipality in which the elector is a resident. The clerk or board of election commissioners shall make a record of all absentee ballots to be transmitted, delivered and voted under this section.
For the purpose of absentee voting in nursing homes and qualified retirement homes and qualified community-based residential facilities, the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners of each municipality in which one or more nursing homes or qualified retirement homes or qualified community-based residential facilities are located shall appoint at least 2 special voting deputies for the municipality. Upon application under s. 6.86 (1)
by one or more qualified electors who are occupants of such a nursing home or qualified retirement home or qualified community-based residential facility, the clerk or board of election commissioners shall dispatch 2 special voting deputies to visit the home or qualified community-based residential facility for the purpose of supervising absentee voting procedure by occupants of the home or qualified community-based residential facility. The 2 deputies designated to visit each nursing home or qualified retirement home and qualified community-based residential facility shall be affiliated with different political parties whenever deputies representing different parties are available. Nominations for deputy positions may be submitted by the 2 recognized political parties whose candidates for governor or president received the greatest numbers of votes in the municipality at the most recent general election. The deputies shall be specially appointed to carry out duties under this section for the period specified in s. 7.30 (6) (a)
. The clerk or board of election commissioners may revoke an appointment at any time. No individual who is employed or retained, or within the 2 years preceding appointment has been employed or retained at a nursing home or qualified retirement home or qualified community-based residential facility in the municipality, or any member of the immediate family of such an individual as defined in s. 19.42 (7)
, may be appointed to serve as a deputy.
Prior to entering upon his or her duties, each individual appointed to serve as a deputy under this section shall file the oath required by s. 7.30 (5)
. In the oath, the individual shall swear that he or she is qualified to act as a deputy under this section, that he or she has read the statutes governing absentee voting, that he or she understands the proper absentee voting procedure, that he or she understands the penalties for noncompliance with the procedure under s. 12.13
, that his or her sacred obligation will be to fully and fairly implement the absentee voting law and seek to have the intent of the electors ascertained. In addition, the oath shall state that the individual realizes that any error in conducting the voting procedure may result in invalidation of an elector's vote under s. 7.51 (2) (e)
and that the individual realizes that absentee voting is a privilege and not a constitutional right. The form of the oath shall be prescribed by the board.
Special voting deputies in each municipality shall, not later than 5 p.m. on the Friday preceding an election, arrange one or more convenient times with the administrator of each nursing home, qualified retirement home, and qualified community-based residential facility in the municipality from which one or more occupants have filed an application under s. 6.86
to conduct absentee voting for the election. The time may be no earlier than the 4th Monday preceding the election and no later than 5 p.m. on the Monday preceding the election. Upon request of a relative of an occupant of a nursing home or qualified retirement home or qualified community-based residential facility, the administrator may notify the relative of the time or times at which special voting deputies will conduct absentee voting at the home or facility, and permit the relative to be present in the room where the voting is conducted. At the designated time, 2 deputies appointed under sub. (4)
shall visit the home or facility. The municipal clerk or executive director of the board of election commissioners shall issue a supply of absentee ballots to the deputies sufficient to provide for the number of valid applications received by the clerk, and a reasonable additional number of ballots. The municipal clerk or executive director shall keep a careful record of all ballots issued to the deputies and shall require the deputies to return every ballot issued to them. The deputies shall personally offer each elector who has filed a proper application the opportunity to cast his or her absentee ballot. If an elector is present who has not filed a proper application, the 2 deputies may accept an application from the elector and shall issue a ballot to the elector if the elector is qualified and the application is proper. The deputies shall each witness the certification and may, upon request of the elector, assist the elector in marking the elector's ballot. Upon request of the elector, a relative of the elector who is present in the room may assist the elector in marking the elector's ballot. All voting shall be conducted in the presence of the deputies. No individual other than a deputy may witness the certification and no individual other than a deputy or relative of an elector may render voting assistance to the elector. Upon completion of the voting, the deputies shall promptly deliver, either personally or by 1st class mail, any absentee ballot applications and the sealed certificate envelope containing each ballot to the clerk or board of election commissioners of the municipality in which the elector casting the ballot resides, within such time as will permit delivery to the polling place serving the elector's residence on election day. Personal delivery may be made by the deputies no later than noon on election day. If a qualified elector is not able to cast his or her ballot on 2 separate visits by the deputies to the home or facility, they shall so inform the municipal clerk or executive director of the board of election commissioners, who may then send the ballot to the elector no later than 5 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election.
Voting and recording the absentee ballot. 6.88(1)(1)
When an absentee ballot arrives at the office of the municipal clerk, the clerk shall enclose it, unopened, in a carrier envelope which shall be securely sealed and endorsed with the name and official title of the clerk, and the words "This envelope contains the ballot of an absent elector and must be opened at the polls during polling hours on election day". If the ballot was received by the elector by facsimile transmission or electronic mail and is accompanied by a separate certificate, the clerk shall enclose the ballot in a certificate envelope and securely append the completed certificate to the outside of the envelope before enclosing the ballot in the carrier envelope. The clerk shall keep the ballot in the clerk's office until delivered, as required in sub. (2)
When an absentee ballot is received by the municipal clerk prior to the delivery of the official ballots to the election officials of the ward in which the elector resides, the municipal clerk shall seal the ballot envelope in the carrier envelope as provided under sub. (1)
, and shall enclose the envelope in a package and deliver the package to the election inspectors of the proper ward or election district. When the official ballots for the ward or election district have been delivered to the election officials before the receipt of an absentee ballot, the clerk shall immediately enclose the envelope containing the absentee ballot in a carrier envelope as provided under sub. (1)
and deliver it in person to the proper election officials.
Any time between the opening and closing of the polls on election day, the inspectors shall open the carrier envelope only, and announce the name of the absent elector or the identification serial number of the absent elector if the elector has a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
. When the inspectors find that the certification has been properly executed, the applicant is a qualified elector of the ward or election district, and the applicant has not voted in the election, they shall enter an indication on the poll or registration list next to the applicant's name indicating an absentee ballot is cast by the elector. They shall then open the envelope containing the ballot in a manner so as not to deface or destroy the certification thereon. The inspectors shall take out the ballot without unfolding it or permitting it to be unfolded or examined. Unless the ballot is cast under s. 6.95
, the inspectors shall verify that the ballot has been endorsed by the issuing clerk. The inspectors shall deposit the ballot into the proper ballot box and enter the absent elector's name or voting number after his or her name on the poll or registration list the same as if the elector had been present and voted in person.
When the inspectors find that a certification is insufficient, that the applicant is not a qualified elector in the ward or election district, that the ballot envelope is open or has been opened and resealed, that the ballot envelope contains more than one ballot of any one kind or that the certificate of an elector who received an absentee ballot by facsimile transmission or electronic mail is missing, or if proof is submitted to the inspectors that an elector voting an absentee ballot has since died, the inspectors shall not count the ballot. The inspectors shall endorse every ballot not counted on the back, "rejected (giving the reason)". The inspectors shall reinsert each rejected ballot into the certificate envelope in which it was delivered and enclose the certificate envelopes and ballots, and securely seal the ballots and envelopes in an envelope marked for rejected absentee ballots. The inspectors shall endorse the envelope, "rejected ballots" with a statement of the ward or election district and date of the election, signed by the chief inspector and one of the inspectors representing each of the 2 major political parties and returned to the municipal clerk in the same manner as official ballots voted at the election.
Absent electors list public.
The municipal clerk shall keep a list of all electors who make application for an absent elector's ballot and who have voted under the absent elector provisions giving the name, address and date of application. The list shall be open to public inspection.
Inspector making challenge.