History: 1975 c. 85
; 1985 a. 304
The polls at every election shall be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Any elector waiting to vote, whether within the polling booth or in the line outside the booth at the time the polls officially close, shall be permitted to vote.
Recording electors. 6.79(1m)(1m)
Separate poll lists.
The municipal clerk may elect to maintain the information on the poll list manually or electronically. If the clerk elects to maintain the list electronically, an election official at each election ward shall be in charge of and shall maintain the poll list. The system employed to maintain the list electronically is subject to the approval of the commission. If the clerk elects to maintain the information manually, 2 election officials at each election ward shall be in charge of and shall maintain 2 separate poll lists.
Unless information on the poll list is entered electronically, the municipal clerk shall supply the inspectors with 2 copies of the most current official registration list or lists prepared under s. 6.36 (2) (a)
for use as poll lists at the polling place. Except as provided in subs. (6)
, and (8)
, each eligible elector, before receiving a serial number, shall state his or her full name and address and present to the officials proof of identification. The officials shall verify that the name on the proof of identification presented by the elector conforms to the name on the poll list or separate list and shall verify that any photograph appearing on that document reasonably resembles the elector. The officials shall then require the elector to enter his or her signature on the poll list, supplemental list, or separate list maintained under par. (c)
unless the elector is exempt from the signature requirement under s. 6.36 (2) (a)
. The officials shall verify that the name and address stated by the elector conform to the elector's name and address on the poll list.
If an elector previously signed his or her registration form or is exempt from a registration requirement and is unable, due to physical disability, to enter his or her signature at the election, the officials shall waive the signature requirement if the officials determine that the elector is unable, due to physical disability, to enter his or her signature. In this case, the officials shall enter next to the name and address of the elector on the poll, supplemental, or separate list the words “exempt by order of inspectors". If both officials do not waive the signature requirement and the elector wishes to vote, the official or officials who do not waive the requirement shall require the elector to vote by ballot and shall challenge the elector's ballot as provided in s. 6.92
and treat the ballot in the manner provided in s. 6.95
. The challenged elector may then provide evidence of his or her physical disability to the board of canvassers charged with initially canvassing the returns prior to the completion of the initial canvass.
Upon the poll list, after the name of each elector, the officials shall enter a serial number for each elector in the order that votes are cast, beginning with number one.
The officials shall maintain separate lists for electors who are voting under s. 6.15
, or 6.55 (2)
and electors who are reassigned from another polling place under s. 5.25 (5) (b)
and shall enter the full name, address, and serial number of each of these electors on the appropriate separate list. Alternatively, if the poll list is maintained electronically, the officials may enter on the poll list the information that would otherwise appear on a separate list if the information that would be obtainable from a separate list is entered on the poll list.
If the poll list indicates that proof of residence under s. 6.34
is required and the proof of identification document provided by the elector under par. (a)
does not constitute proof of residence under s. 6.34
, the officials shall require the elector to provide proof of residence. If proof of residence is provided, the officials shall enter both the type of identifying document submitted as proof of residence and the name of the entity or institution that issued the identifying document in the space provided on the poll list and shall verify that the name and address on the identifying document is the same as the name and address shown on the registration list. If proof of residence is required and not provided, or if the elector does not present proof of identification under par. (a)
, whenever required, the officials shall offer the opportunity for the elector to vote under s. 6.97
If the poll list indicates that the elector is ineligible to vote because the elector's name appears on the current list provided by the department of corrections under s. 301.03 (20m)
, the inspectors shall inform the elector of this fact. If the elector maintains that he or she is eligible to vote in the election, the inspectors shall provide the elector with a ballot and, after the elector casts his or her vote, shall challenge the ballot as provided in s. 6.92
and treat the ballot in the manner provided in s. 6.95
The officials shall then provide each elector with a slip bearing the same serial number as is recorded for the elector upon the poll list or separate list.
(3) Refusal to provide name, address, or proof of identification. 6.79(3)(a)(a)
Except as provided in sub. (6)
, if any elector offering to vote at any polling place refuses to give his or her name and address, the elector may not be permitted to vote.
If proof of identification under sub. (2)
is not presented by the elector, if the name appearing on the document presented does not conform to the name on the poll list or separate list, or if any photograph appearing on the document does not reasonably resemble the elector, the elector shall not be permitted to vote, except as authorized under sub. (6)
, but if the elector is entitled to cast a provisional ballot under s. 6.97
, the officials shall offer the opportunity for the elector to vote under s. 6.97
(4) Supplemental information.
When any elector provides proof of residence under s. 6.15
or 6.55 (2)
, the election officials shall enter both the type of identifying document provided and the name of the entity or institution that issued the identifying document on the poll list, or separate list maintained under sub. (2) (c)
. When any person offering to vote has been challenged and taken the oath, following the person's name on the poll list, the officials shall enter the word “Sworn".
(6) Confidential names and addresses.
An elector who has a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
may present his or her identification card issued under s. 6.47 (3)
, or give his or her name and identification serial number issued under s. 6.47 (3)
, in lieu of stating his or her name and address and presenting proof of identification under sub. (2)
. If the elector's name and identification serial number appear on the confidential portion of the list, the inspectors shall issue a voting serial number to the elector, record that number on the poll list and permit the elector to vote.
(7) License surrender.
If an elector receives a citation or notice of intent to revoke or suspend an operator's license from a law enforcement officer in any jurisdiction that is dated within 60 days of the date of an election and is required to surrender his or her operator's license or driving receipt issued to the elector under ch. 343
at the time the citation or notice is issued, the elector may present an original copy of the citation or notice in lieu of an operator's license or driving receipt issued under ch. 343
. In such case, the elector shall cast his or her ballot under s. 6.965
(8) Voter unable to state name and address.
An elector is not required to state his or her name and address under sub. (2) (a)
if the elector is unable to do so, but an election official, or another person selected by the elector, shall state the elector's name and address after the election official verifies the elector's proof of identification under sub. (2) (a)
Requiring photo identification as proof of identification is not facially unconstitutional. It is clearly within the legislature's province to require any person offering to vote to furnish such proof as it deems requisite that the person is a qualified elector. Requiring a potential voter to identify himself or herself as a qualified elector through acceptable photo identification does not impose an elector qualification in addition to those set out in article III, section 1
, of the Wisconsin Constitution. The requirement comes within the legislature's authority to enact laws providing for the registration of electors under article III, section 2
, of the Wisconsin Constitution, because acceptable photo identification is the mode by which election officials verify that a potential voter is the elector listed on the registration list. League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. v. Walker, 2014 WI 97
, 357 Wis. 2d 360
, 851 N.W.2d 302
The burdens of time and inconvenience associated with obtaining acceptable photo identification as proof of identification are not undue burdens on the right to vote and do not render the law invalid. Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker, 2014 WI 98
, 357 Wis. 2d 469
, 851 N.W.2d 262
Even rational restrictions on the right to vote are invidious if they are unrelated to voter qualifications. However, evenhanded restrictions that protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself are not invidious. An Indiana statute requiring citizens voting in person on election day, or casting a ballot in person at the office of the circuit court clerk prior to election day, to present photo identification issued by the government did not violate constitutional standards. Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181
, 128 S. Ct. 1610
, 170 L. Ed. 2d 574
6.79 Annotation2011 Wis. Act 23
, which created requirements that voters present photo identification in order to vote at a polling place or obtain an absentee ballot, does not violate either section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, 52 USC 10301, or the U.S. Constitution. Frank v. Walker, 768 F.3d 744
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)
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 eligible 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. Except as authorized in s. 6.79 (6)
, the individual selected by the elector shall present to the inspectors proof of identification and, if the proof of identification does not constitute proof of residence under s. 6.34
, shall also provide proof of residence under s. 6.34
for the assisted elector and all other information necessary for the elector to obtain a ballot under s. 6.79 (2)
. The inspectors shall verify that the name on the proof of identification presented by the person assisting the elector conforms to the elector's name on the poll list or separate list, shall verify that any photograph appearing on that document reasonably resembles the elector, and shall enter both the type of identifying document submitted by the assisted elector as proof of residence and the name of the entity or institution that issued the identifying document in the space provided on the poll list or separate list. The inspectors shall then 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 former 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
The absence of an express statutory prohibition on ballot drop boxes does not mean drop boxes comport with “the procedures specified" in the election laws. The statutory requirements governing absentee voting must be completely satisfied or ballots may not be counted. Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2022 WI 64
, 403 Wis. 2d 607
, 976 N.W.2d 519
Absent elector; definition. 6.85(1)(1)
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 or election district.
Any otherwise qualified elector who changes residence within this state by moving to a different ward or municipality later than 28 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
Discussing voter residency and absentee voting. 60 Atty. Gen. 214.
Alternate absentee ballot site. 6.855(1)(1)
The governing body of a municipality may elect to designate a site other than the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners as the location from which electors of the municipality may request and vote absentee ballots and to which voted absentee ballots shall be returned by electors for any election. The designated site shall be located as near as practicable to the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners and no site may be designated that affords an advantage to any political party. An election by a governing body to designate an alternate site under this section shall be made no fewer than 14 days prior to the time that absentee ballots are available for the primary under s. 7.15 (1) (cm)
, if a primary is scheduled to be held, or at least 14 days prior to the time that absentee ballots are available for the election under s. 7.15 (1) (cm)
, if a primary is not scheduled to be held, and shall remain in effect until at least the day after the election. If the governing body of a municipality makes an election under this section, no function related to voting and return of absentee ballots that is to be conducted at the alternate site may be conducted in the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners.
The municipal clerk or board of election commissioners shall prominently display a notice of the designation of the alternate site selected under sub. (1)
in the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners beginning on the date that the site is designated under sub. (1)
and continuing through the period that absentee ballots are available for the election and for any primary under s. 7.15 (1) (cm)
. If the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners maintains a website on the Internet, the clerk or board of election commissioners shall post a notice of the designation of the alternate site selected under sub. (1)
on the website during the same period that notice is displayed in the office of the clerk or board of election commissioners.
An alternate site under sub. (1)
shall be staffed by the municipal clerk or the executive director of the board of election commissioners, or employees of the clerk or the board of election commissioners.
An alternate site under sub. (1)
shall be accessible to all individuals with disabilities.
A governing body may designate more than one alternate site under sub. (1)
Ballot drop boxes are not alternate absentee ballot sites under this section because a voter can only return the voter's absentee ballot to a drop box, while an alternate site must also allow voters to request and vote absentee at the site. An alternate site serves as a replacement for the office of the municipal clerk rather than an additional site for absentee voting. Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2022 WI 64
, 403 Wis. 2d 607
, 976 N.W.2d 519
Methods for obtaining an absentee ballot. 6.86(1)(a)
Any elector of a municipality who is registered to vote whenever required and who qualifies under ss. 6.20
as an absent elector may make written application to the municipal clerk of that municipality for an official ballot by one of the following methods:
In person at the office of the municipal clerk or at an alternate site under s. 6.855
, if applicable.
By electronic mail or facsimile transmission as provided in par. (ac)
Any elector qualifying under par. (a)
may make written application to the municipal clerk for an official ballot by means of facsimile transmission or electronic mail. Any application under this paragraph need not contain a copy of the applicant's original signature. An elector requesting a ballot under this paragraph shall return with the voted ballot a copy of the request bearing an original signature of the elector as provided in s. 6.87 (4)
. Except as authorized in ss. 6.87 (4) (b) 2.
and 6.875 (6)
, and notwithstanding s. 343.43 (1) (f)
, the elector shall transmit a copy of his or her proof of identification in the manner provided in s. 6.87 (1)
unless the elector is a military elector or an overseas elector or the elector has a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
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 authorized in s. 6.79 (6)
, if a qualified elector applies for an absentee ballot in person at the clerk's office, the clerk shall not issue the elector an absentee ballot unless the elector presents proof of identification. The clerk shall verify that the name on the proof of identification presented by the elector conforms to the name on the elector's application and shall verify that any photograph appearing on that document reasonably resembles the elector. The clerk shall then enter his or her initials on the certificate envelope indicating that the absentee elector presented proof of identification to the clerk.
Except as provided in this section, if application is made by mail, the application shall be received no later than 5 p.m. on the 5th day immediately preceding the election. If application is made in person, the application shall be made no earlier than 14 days preceding the election and no later than the Sunday preceding the election. No application may be received on a legal holiday. A municipality shall specify the hours in the notice under s. 10.01 (2) (e)
. The municipal clerk or an election official shall witness the certificate for any in-person absentee ballot cast. Except as provided in par. (c)
, if the elector is making written application for an absentee ballot at the partisan primary, the general election, the presidential preference primary, or a special election for national office, and the application indicates that the elector is a military elector, as defined in s. 6.34 (1)
, the application shall be received by the municipal clerk no later than 5 p.m. on election day. If 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 or, in municipalities where absentee ballots are canvassed under s. 7.52
, to the municipal clerk 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.
If an application is made by mail by a military elector, as defined in s. 6.22 (1) (b)
, the application shall be received no later than 5 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding the election.