Mechanics of voting. 6.80(1)(1)
Voting booth or machine use.
Only one individual at a time is permitted to occupy a voting booth or machine, except that an elector who is a parent or guardian may be accompanied by the elector's minor child or minor ward, and an elector who qualifies for assistance under s. 6.82 (2)
may be assisted as provided in that subsection.
Upon receiving his or her ballot and without leaving the polling place, the elector shall enter an unoccupied voting booth or machine alone to cast his or her vote, except as authorized in sub. (1)
. An elector may use or copy an unofficial sample ballot which may be marked in advance of entering the polling place, but an elector may not use or bring into the polling place any ballot printed upon paper of the type required or utilized for official ballots at that polling place.
In partisan primaries, an elector may vote for a person as the candidate of the party of the elector's choice, if that person's name does not appear on the official ballot of that party, by writing in the name of the person in the space provided on the ballot or the ballot provided for that purpose, or where voting machines are used, in the irregular ballot device, designating the party for which the elector desires such person to be the nominee.
After preparing his or her ballot, unless the ballot is intended for counting with automatic tabulating equipment, the elector shall fold it so its face will be concealed.
Any elector who, by accident or mistake, spoils or erroneously prepares a ballot may receive another, by returning the defective ballot, but not to exceed 3 ballots in all.
If an elector receives a ballot which is not initialed by 2 inspectors, or is defective in any other way, the elector shall return it to the inspectors. If the initials are missing, the inspectors shall supply the missing initials. If the ballot is defective, they shall destroy it and issue another ballot to the elector.
Upon voting his or her ballot, the elector shall publicly and in person deposit it into the ballot box or deliver it to an inspector, who shall deposit the ballot into the ballot box.
In the presidential preference primary and other partisan primary elections at polling places where ballots are distributed to electors, unless the ballots are prepared under s. 5.655
or are utilized with an electronic voting system in which all candidates appear on the same ballot, after the elector prepares his or her ballot the elector shall detach the remaining ballots, fold the ballots to be discarded and fold the completed ballot unless the ballot is intended for counting with automatic tabulating equipment. The elector shall then either personally deposit the ballots to be discarded into the separate ballot box marked "blank ballot box" and deposit the completed ballot into the ballot box indicated by the inspectors, or give the ballots to an inspector who shall deposit the ballots directly into the appropriate ballot boxes. The inspectors shall keep the blank ballot box locked until the canvass is completed and shall dispose of the blank ballots as prescribed by the municipal clerk.
(3) Time in booth or machine. 6.80(3)(a)(a)
Each elector shall be allowed a reasonable time to vote. Unless otherwise specified for that election, a majority of the inspectors shall determine the time each elector shall have to mark the ballot, taking into consideration the size of the ballot and the number of electors in line waiting to vote. In no case shall the time be less than one minute. If there are electors in line waiting to vote, the time shall not exceed 5 minutes.
If an elector refuses to leave the booth or machine after being notified by one of the inspectors that the time has expired, the elector shall be removed by the inspectors.
Assisting electors. 6.82(1)(1)
Receipt of ballot at poll entrance. 6.82(1)(a)(a)
When any inspectors are informed that an elector is at the entrance to the polling place who as a result of disability is unable to enter the polling place, they shall permit the elector to be assisted in marking a ballot by any individual selected by the elector, except the elector's employer or an agent of that employer or an officer or agent of a labor organization which represents the elector. The individual selected by the elector shall provide identification for the assisted elector, whenever required, and all other information necessary for the elector to obtain a ballot under s. 6.79 (2)
. The inspectors shall issue a ballot to the individual selected by the elector and shall accompany the individual to the polling place entrance where the assistance is to be given. If the ballot is a paper ballot, the assisting individual shall fold the ballot after the ballot is marked by the assisting individual. The assisting individual shall then immediately take the ballot into the polling place and give the ballot to an inspector. The inspector shall distinctly announce that he or she has "a ballot offered by .... (stating person's name), an elector who, as a result of disability, is unable to enter the polling place without assistance". The inspector shall then ask, "Does anyone object to the reception of this ballot?" If no objection is made, the inspectors shall record the elector's name under s. 6.79
and deposit the ballot in the ballot box, and shall make a notation on the poll list: "Ballot received at poll entrance".
If objection to receiving the ballot is made by any qualified elector present, the inspectors shall receive the ballot under s. 6.95
If an elector declares to the presiding election official that he or she cannot read or write, or has difficulty in reading, writing or understanding English or that due to disability is unable to mark a ballot or depress a button or lever on a voting machine, the elector shall be informed by the officials that he or she may have assistance. When assistance is requested, the elector may select any individual to assist in casting his or her vote. The selected individual rendering assistance may not be the elector's employer or an agent of that employer or an officer or agent of a labor organization which represents the elector. The selected individual shall certify on the back of the ballot that it was marked with his or her assistance. Where voting machines are used, certification shall be made on the registration list.
The individual chosen shall enter the voting booth or machine with the elector and shall read the names of all candidates on the ballot for each office, and ask, "For which one do you vote?". The ballot shall be marked or the lever or button depressed according to the elector's expressed preference. The individual selected to assist may not disclose to anyone how the elector voted.
Intoxication shall not be regarded as a disability.
The election officials shall enter upon the poll list after the name of any elector who had assistance in voting the word "assisted". The officials shall also record on the poll list the full name and address of the individual who renders assistance.
(3) Use of paper ballots.
Whenever, in a municipality in which voting machines are used, an elector declares to the chief inspector that, due to physical disability, the elector is unable to depress a button or lever on a voting machine, the inspectors shall permit the elector to vote using a paper ballot and voting booth.
(4) Solicitation prohibited.
No election official or other person assisting an elector under this section or s. 5.79
may request, suggest or seek to persuade an elector to cast a vote for or against any candidate, party or question.
An elector with dyslexia may qualify for voter assistance under sub. (2), [1971 stats.]. 62 Atty. Gen. 195.
The legislature finds that voting is a constitutional right, the vigorous exercise of which should be strongly encouraged. In contrast, voting by absentee ballot is a privilege exercised wholly outside the traditional safeguards of the polling place. The legislature finds that the privilege of voting by absentee ballot must be carefully regulated to prevent the potential for fraud or abuse; to prevent overzealous solicitation of absent electors who may prefer not to participate in an election; to prevent undue influence on an absent elector to vote for or against a candidate or to cast a particular vote in a referendum; or other similar abuses.
Notwithstanding s. 5.01 (1)
, with respect to matters relating to the absentee ballot process, ss. 6.86
, 6.87 (3)
and 9.01 (1) (b) 2.
shall be construed as mandatory. Ballots cast in contravention of the procedures specified in those provisions may not be counted. Ballots counted in contravention of the procedures specified in those provisions may not be included in the certified result of any election.
History: 1985 a. 304
; 1987 a. 391
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 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, 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 provide 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 documentation of his or her identity, 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. If identification is required, the municipal clerk shall so inform the agent and the elector shall enclose identification in the envelope with the 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
; 2003 a. 265
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 absentee ballot requests. 6.865(1)
In this section, "military elector" and "overseas elector" have the meanings given under s. 6.36 (2) (c)
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.
If the elector making a timely request for an absentee ballot is a military elector or an overseas elector and the elector requests that he or she be sent an absentee ballot for the next 2 general elections, the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners shall comply with the request except that no ballot shall be sent for a succeeding general election if the elector's name appeared on the registration list for a previous general election and no longer appears on the registration list for the succeeding general election. If the elector's address for the succeeding general election is in a municipality that is different from the municipality in which the elector resided for the first general election, the clerk or board of election commissioners shall forward the request to the clerk or board of election commissioners of the municipality where the elector resides.
If the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners rejects a request for an absentee ballot from a military elector or an overseas elector, the clerk or board of election commissioners shall promptly inform the elector of the reason for the rejection.
The board shall prescribe uniform instructions for absentee voters. The instructions shall include information concerning the procedure for correcting errors in marking a ballot and obtaining a replacement for a spoiled ballot. The procedure shall, to the extent possible, respect the privacy of each elector and preserve the confidentiality of each elector's vote.
History: 2003 a. 265
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.