The governing body of any municipality may require all persons serving as election officials to prove their ability to read and write English and to have a general knowledge of the election laws. Examinations may be given to prove the qualifications can be met. The municipal clerk shall ensure that all training meets the training requirements prescribed in rules promulgated by the commission under ss. 7.31
Not less than 30 days before any election the governing body or board of election commissioners of any municipality, by resolution, may authorize the municipal clerk or executive director of the board of election commissioners to select and employ tabulators for any election. Such authorization applies to the elections specified in the resolution, and if not specified, applies until the authorization is modified or revoked.
The tabulators shall assist and be under the direction of the election inspectors after the close of the polls.
Except in cities where there is a board of election commissioners, the mayor, president or board chairperson of each municipality shall nominate to the governing body no later than their last regular meeting in December of each odd-numbered year the necessary election officials for each polling place and any election officials required under s. 7.52 (1) (b)
. If no regular meeting is scheduled, the mayor, president or chairperson shall call a special meeting for the purpose of considering nominations no later than December 31.
The 2 dominant parties, under sub. (2)
, are each responsible for submitting a list of names from which all appointees to inspector positions, other than appointees to inspector positions authorized under sub. (1) (b)
, shall be chosen. Each person submitting the name of one or more nominees shall certify on his or her list of nominations that the person has contacted each nominee whose name appears on the list and that each nominee has agreed to serve as an election official. The nominations shall be submitted as follows:
In cities where there is a board of election commissioners, the county committee under s. 8.17
of each of the 2 recognized political parties described under sub. (2)
shall submit a certified list no later than November 30 of each odd-numbered year containing the names of nominees from that party for each of the voting wards in the aldermanic district. For inspectors serving under s. 7.52 (1) (b)
, the county committees under s. 8.17
of the 2 recognized political parties described under sub. (2)
shall submit a certified list containing the names of nominees from that party who are to be appointed under s. 7.52 (1) (b)
. The chairperson may designate any individual whose name is submitted as a first choice nominee. The chairperson shall sign any list submitted under this subdivision. The board of election commissioners shall appoint, no later than December 31 of odd-numbered years, at least 5 inspectors for each ward. Unless nonappointment is authorized under par. (e)
, the board of election commissioners shall appoint all first choice nominees for so long as positions are available. The board of election commissioners shall appoint other individuals in its discretion and may designate such alternates as it deems advisable.
In a municipality other than a city or village located in a county having a population of more than 750,000, the committees organized under s. 8.17
for each of the 2 recognized political parties described under sub. (2)
shall submit a list containing the names of nominees from that party. The chairperson of each of the 2 committees shall submit the list to the mayor, president, chairperson, or clerk of the municipality, or to his or her agent, or shall deliver or mail the list to the office of the municipality. If the chairperson submits the list to the municipal clerk or his or her agent, the clerk shall immediately forward the list to the mayor, president, or chairperson of the municipality. If committees are organized in subdivisions of a city, the chairperson of the city committee shall submit the list. If there is no municipal committee, the chairperson of the county or legislative district committee shall submit the list. Except as provided in par. (c)
, only those persons submitted by the chairperson of each committee under s. 8.17
may act as election officials. The chairperson of each committee under s. 8.17
may designate any individual whose name is submitted as a first choice nominee. The chairperson and secretary of the submitting committee shall sign the list.
In a city or village located in a county having a population of more than 750,000, other than a city where there is a board of election commissioners, if there is an aldermanic district or village member of a committee under s. 8.17
for the ward or wards where a polling place is located, the committee member shall submit a list containing the names of nominees from the recognized political party, described under sub. (2)
, represented by the committee member. For inspectors to be appointed under s. 7.52 (1) (b)
, the committee members of the committees under s. 8.17
for the 2 recognized political parties described under sub. (2)
for the municipality acting jointly shall submit a list containing the names of nominees from the party represented by the committee members of the committees for the municipality acting jointly. Nominations for inspectors to be appointed in a city or village where there is no aldermanic district or village committee member shall proceed in the same manner as in a municipality located in a county having a population of 750,000 or less. The appropriate committee member, committee members, or chairperson shall submit the list to the mayor, president, or clerk of the municipality, or to his or her agent, or shall deliver or mail the list to the office of the municipality. If the list is submitted to the municipal clerk or his or her agent, the clerk shall immediately forward the list to the mayor or president. Except as provided in par. (c)
, only those persons whose names are submitted as provided in this paragraph may act as election officials. The appropriate committee member, committee members, or chairperson may designate any individual whose name is submitted as a first choice nominee. The aldermanic district or village committee member or the chairperson of the appropriate committee shall sign the list.
Unless nonappointment is authorized under par. (e)
, upon submission of the lists of names as provided under subd. 2. a.
, the governing body shall appoint each first choice nominee for so long as positions to be filled from that list are available. The governing body shall appoint other nominees in its discretion. If any nominee is not appointed, the mayor, president, or chairperson of the municipality shall immediately nominate another person from the appropriate lists submitted and continue until the necessary number of election officials from each party is achieved at that meeting.
Except with respect to inspectors who are appointed under sub. (1) (b)
, for so long as nominees are made available by the political parties under this section, appointments may be made only from the lists of nominees submitted under this subsection. If the lists are not submitted by November 30 of the year in which appointments are to be made, the board of election commissioners shall appoint, or the mayor, president or chairperson of a municipality shall nominate, qualified persons whose names have not been submitted. The board of election commissioners shall give priority to appointing, and the mayor, president, or chairperson of the municipality shall give priority to nominating, qualified electors of the municipality for which no list of nominees was submitted. If an insufficient number of qualified electors of the municipality can be identified, the board of election commissioners may appoint, and the mayor, president, or chairperson of the municipality may nominate, qualified electors of a county within which the municipality is located. If an insufficient number of nominees appears on the lists as of November 30, the board of election commissioners shall similarly appoint, or the mayor, president or chairperson shall similarly nominate, sufficient individuals to fill the remaining vacancies. In addition, the mayor, president, or board chairperson of the municipality shall similarly nominate qualified persons to serve in the inspector positions authorized under sub. (1) (b)
. Any appointment under this paragraph which is made due to the lack of availability of names submitted under par. (b)
may be made without regard to party affiliation.
A party committee or aldermanic district or village committeeman or committeewoman under s. 8.17
may submit additional names for inclusion in its list of nominations under this section at any time for the purpose of filling vacancies that occur during a term of office. However, an appointment need at no time be delayed because of the lack of availability of party nominees.
If an appointing authority believes that, for good cause, it should not appoint an individual whose name is submitted as a first choice nominee under par. (b)
, it may request the commission to authorize nonappointment. The commission may permit nonappointment of an individual for cause demonstrated by an appointing authority.
Oath of office.
Within 5 days after appointment of the election officials the municipal clerk shall give each appointee notice. The appointees shall file the official oath with the municipal clerk within 10 days after the mailing of the notice. Appointees to fill vacancies or any other election official who has not filed the oath, before receiving any ballots, shall sign the oath and return it to the municipal clerk. An inspector, after taking the oath, may administer any oath required to conduct an election.
Except as provided in par. (am)
, the appointed election officials shall hold office for 2 years and until their successors are appointed and qualified. They shall serve at every election held in their ward during their term of office.
A pupil appointed as an inspector under sub. (2) (am)
shall serve as an inspector only for the election for which he or she is appointed. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to limit the number of times a pupil may be appointed as an inspector.
Prior to the first election following the appointment of the inspectors, the municipal clerk shall appoint one of the inspectors at each polling place, other than an inspector who is appointed under sub. (1) (b)
, to serve as chief inspector. No person may serve as chief inspector at any election who is not certified by the commission under s. 7.31
at the time of the election. The chief inspector shall hold the position for the remainder of the term unless the inspector is removed by the clerk or the inspector ceases to be certified under s. 7.31
, except that whenever wards are combined or separated under s. 5.15 (6) (b)
, the municipal clerk shall appoint another inspector who is certified under s. 7.31
to serve as chief inspector at each polling place designated under s. 5.15 (6) (b)
. If a vacancy occurs in the position of chief inspector at any polling place, the municipal clerk shall appoint one of the other inspectors who is certified under s. 7.31
to fill the vacancy.
If any election official appointed under this section lacks the qualifications set forth in this section, fails to attend training sessions required under s. 7.15 (1) (e)
unless excused therefrom, is guilty of neglecting his or her official duties or commits official misconduct, the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners shall summarily remove the official from office and the vacancy shall be filled under sub. (2) (b)
History: 1971 c. 242
; 1971 c. 304
s. 29 (1)
, (2); 1971 c. 336
; 1973 c. 280
; 1975 c. 93
; 1977 c. 394
; 1979 c. 89
; 1983 a. 183
; 1985 a. 131
; 1985 a. 304
; 1987 a. 391
; 1989 a. 192
; 1995 a. 16
; 1997 a. 127
; 1999 a. 182
; 2001 a. 16
; 2005 a. 27
; 2007 a. 96
; 2009 a. 302
; 2011 a. 260
; 2013 a. 147
; 2015 a. 118
s. 266 (10)
; 2015 a. 195
; 2017 a. 207
; 2017 a. 326
; 2021 a. 34
Training and certification of chief inspectors. 7.31(1)(1)
The commission shall establish requirements for certification of individuals to serve as chief inspectors. The requirements shall include a requirement to attend at least one training session held under sub. (5)
before beginning service.
No individual may serve as a chief inspector at a polling place in an election unless the individual is certified by the commission to hold that office on the date of the election at which the individual serves.
The commission shall, upon application, issue certificates to qualified individuals who meet the requirements to be certified as chief inspectors. Each certificate shall carry an expiration date.
The commission shall require each individual to whom a certificate is issued under this section to meet requirements to maintain that certification. The requirements shall include a requirement to attend at least one training session held under sub. (5)
every 2 years during the period beginning on January 1 of each even-numbered year and ending on December 31 of the following year. The commission shall renew the certificate of any individual who requests renewal and who meets the requirements prescribed under this subsection.
The commission shall conduct regular training programs to ensure that individuals who are certified by the commission under this section are knowledgeable concerning their authority and responsibilities. The commission shall pay all costs required to conduct the training programs from the appropriation under s. 20.510 (1) (bm)
Training of other election officials. 7.315(1)(a)
The commission shall, by rule, prescribe the contents of the training that municipal clerks must provide to inspectors, other than chief inspectors, and to special voting deputies appointed under s. 6.875
Each inspector other than a chief inspector and each special voting deputy appointed under s. 6.875
shall view or attend at least one training program every 2 years during the period beginning on January 1 of each even-numbered year and ending on December 31 of the following year. Except as provided in subd. 2.
, no individual may serve as an inspector, other than a chief inspector, or as a special voting deputy under s. 6.875
at any election unless the individual has completed training for that election provided by the municipal clerk pursuant to rules promulgated under par. (a)
within 2 years of the date of the election.
Only when an individual who has received training under subd. 1.
is unavailable to perform his or her election duties due to sickness, injury, or other unforeseen occurrence may an individual who has not received training under subd. 1.
be appointed to serve as an inspector, other than chief inspector, or a special voting deputy. The appointment of an individual to serve under this subdivision shall be for a specific election and no individual may be appointed under this subdivision more than one time in a 2-year period beginning on January 1 of each even-numbered year and ending on December 31 of the following year.
The commission shall, by rule, prescribe requirements for, and the content of, training required of municipal clerks under s. 7.15 (1m)
. The commission may provide such training directly or arrange for such training to be provided by other organizations. The rules shall provide a method for notifying the relevant municipal governing body if a municipal clerk fails to attend required training.
The commission may produce and periodically reissue as necessary a video program for the purpose of training election officials, including special voting deputies and election registration officials. The commission shall make any such program available for viewing electronically through an Internet-based system.
Election registration officials shall receive the training as provided under this section for inspectors, other than chief inspectors.
Change of election official numbers.
Notwithstanding s. 7.30 (1) (a)
, the governing body or board of election commissioners of any municipality may by resolution reduce the number of election officials and modify or rescind any similar previous action. No such action may reduce the number of officials at a polling place to less than 3.
See also ch. EL 12
, Wis. adm. code.
Service as an election official. 7.33(2)
Service as an election official under this chapter shall be mandatory upon all individuals appointed, during the full 2-year term, after which they shall be exempt from further service as an election official, under this chapter, until 3 terms of 2 years each have elapsed. Municipal clerks may grant exemptions from service at any time.
Every employer shall grant to each employee who is appointed to serve as an election official under s. 7.30
a leave of absence for the entire 24-hour period of each election day in which the official serves in his or her official capacity. An employee who serves as an election official shall provide his or her employer with at least 7 days' notice of application for a leave. The municipal clerk shall verify appointments upon request of any employer.
Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, each local governmental unit, as defined in s. 16.97 (7)
, may, and each state agency shall, upon proper application under sub. (3)
, permit each of its employees to serve as an election official under s. 7.30
without loss of fringe benefits or seniority privileges earned for scheduled working hours during the period specified in sub. (3)
, without loss of pay for scheduled working hours during the period specified in sub. (3)
except as provided in sub. (5)
, and without any other penalty. For employees who are included in a collective bargaining unit for which a representative is recognized or certified under subch. V of ch. 111
, this subsection shall apply unless otherwise provided in a collective bargaining agreement.
Any employee of a local governmental unit, as defined in s. 16.97 (7)
, or state agency who obtains a paid leave of absence under sub. (4)
in order to serve as an election official under s. 7.30
shall certify in writing to the head of the local governmental unit or state agency by which he or she is employed the amount of compensation that the employee receives for such service. Upon receipt of the certification, the head of the local governmental unit or state agency shall deduct that amount from the employee's pay earned for scheduled working hours during the period specified in sub. (2)
when the employee is on a paid leave of absence.
Each employer other than a state agency shall, upon proper application under sub. (3)
, permit each of its employees to serve as an election official under s. 7.30
without loss of fringe benefits or seniority privileges earned for scheduled working hours during the period specified in sub. (3)
, and shall not impose any other penalty upon an employee who serves as an election official, except the employer need not pay wages to an employee for time not worked while the employee is serving as an election official.
Chief inspector's duties.
Subject to the supervision of the municipal clerk or executive director of the board of election commissioners, the chief inspector shall direct the conduct of activities assigned to the inspectors at the polling place. The chief inspector shall refer any question as to the proper procedure to be employed in carrying out the inspectors' duties to the municipal clerk or executive director.
History: 1985 a. 304
Inspectors' duties. 7.37(1)(1)
Adjourn to another location.
Whenever it becomes impossible or inconvenient to hold an election at the designated location, the inspectors, after assembling at or as near the designated polling place as practicable and before receiving any votes, may adjourn to the nearest convenient place for holding the election. The inspectors shall make a proclamation of the move and a law enforcement officer or other proper person designated by the municipal clerk shall be stationed at or as near as possible to the place where the adjournment was made, to notify all electors of the place to which the election adjourned. At the new location the inspectors shall immediately proceed with the election.
The inspectors shall possess full authority to maintain order and to enforce obedience to their lawful commands during the election and the canvass of the votes. They shall permit only one person in a voting booth at a time and shall prevent any person from taking notice of how another person has voted, except when assistance is given under s. 6.82
. They shall enforce s. 5.35 (5)
and prevent electioneering and distribution of election-related material from taking place in violation of ss. 12.03
. If any person refuses to obey the lawful commands of an inspector, or is disorderly in the presence or hearing of the inspectors, interrupts or disturbs the proceedings, they may order any law enforcement officer to remove the person from the voting area or to take the person into custody.
Check ballot boxes.
Immediately before the proclamation that the polls are open the election inspectors shall open each ballot box in the presence of the people assembled there, turn the boxes upside down so as to empty them of everything that may be inside and then lock them. The ballot boxes shall remain locked and shall not be reopened until the polls close for the purpose of counting the ballots therein.
At polling places which utilize paper ballots or electronic voting systems in which ballots are distributed to electors, 2 inspectors shall be assigned to take charge of the official ballots. They shall write their initials on the back of each ballot and deliver to each elector as he or she enters the voting booth one ballot properly endorsed by each of them. Where paper ballots are used, the inspectors shall fold each ballot in the proper manner to be deposited before delivering it to the elector. If asked, inspectors may instruct any elector as to the proper manner of marking the ballot, but they may not give advice, suggestions, express any preferences or make any requests as to the person for whom, the question on which or the ballot on which the elector shall vote.
Any election official who intentionally fails to properly endorse a ballot or who intentionally gives an elector a ballot not properly endorsed shall be removed as an election official.
Whenever a vacancy occurs in a nomination after the ballots have been printed and stickers are provided under s. 7.38
or 8.35 (2)
, the inspectors shall, at the direction of the municipal clerk, properly apply the stickers to the official ballots before endorsement.
Two inspectors shall be assigned to have charge of the poll lists at each election.
Electronic voting systems.
Prior to the opening of the polling place, wherever electronic voting systems employing voting devices are used, the inspectors shall place the voting devices in position for voting and examine them to see that they are in proper working order.
Posting sample ballots.
Two sample ballots sent by the municipal clerk shall be posted by the inspectors near the entrance to the polling place for public inspection throughout the day.
If any person is challenged for cause, the inspectors shall proceed under ss. 6.92
and with the aid of other provisions of ch. 6
as appear applicable, shall resolve the challenge.
Any spoiled ballot returned to an inspector under s. 6.80 (2) (c)
shall be immediately destroyed by one of the inspectors.
The election inspectors shall constitute the board of canvassers of their polling place and in that capacity shall perform the duties under s. 7.51
, except as otherwise designated by the municipal clerk under ss. 5.85
Closing of polls.
For each polling place, the municipal clerk shall designate an official of the municipality who shall position himself or herself at the end of the line of individuals waiting to vote, if any, at the time that the polls officially close. The official may be an appointed inspector who serves at that polling place, an employee of the municipal clerk or a police officer. Only individuals in line ahead of the official shall be permitted to vote under s. 6.78 (4)
The requirement under sub. (4) that each ballot be initialed by 2 inspectors is directory, not mandatory, when the number of votes is equal to the number of electors. Roth v. LaFarge School District Board of Canvassers, 2001 WI App 221
, 247 Wis. 2d 708
, 634 N.W.2d 882
Vacancies after nomination. 7.38(1)(1)
Except as provided in sub. (4)
, after the death of a candidate nominated for a partisan office, either in a primary or when no primary is required under s. 8.50 (3) (b)
, the vacancy may be filled by the candidate's political party. In the case of county offices, the vacancy shall be filled by the chairperson of the county committee. If no county committee exists, the vacancy shall be filled by the chairperson of the state committee. For other offices, the vacancy shall be filled by the chairperson of the state committee. The appropriate chairperson shall file with the official or agency with whom nomination papers are filed for the office a certificate signed, certified and sworn to the same as an original nomination paper. The certificate shall state the cause of the vacancy, the name of the new nominee and the office for which the nomination is made. A political party may not nominate a candidate for an office for which no person representing that party has filed nomination papers and a declaration of candidacy.
The certificate shall be filed within 4 days of the date of notification of the vacancy and shall have the same effect as original nomination papers.
If the vacancy occurs after ballots have been printed in any county or municipality, the chairperson of the committee filling the vacancy shall supply the municipal clerk with stickers containing the name of the new nominee only. The stickers may be no larger than the space provided on the ballot for the original candidate's name and office.
There can be no vacancy in nomination prior to a party primary, except when no primary is required under s. 8.50 (3) (b)
In the event of failure to file the name of a current state chairperson, as required under s. 8.17 (12)
, the commission may not recognize the state committee for the purpose of filling vacancies under sub. (1)
Any committee may, at its own expense and subject to limitations upon contributions and disbursements under ch. 11
, print a supply of sample ballots, provided each sample ballot includes on its face the information required by s. 11.1303 (2)
and all the names shown on the official ballot. In this section, committee has the meaning given in s. 11.0101 (6)
History: 1987 a. 391
; 2015 a. 117
Public's right to access. 7.41(1)(1)
Any member of the public may be present at any polling place, in the office of any municipal clerk whose office is located in a public building on any day that absentee ballots may be cast in that office, or at an alternate site under s. 6.855
on any day that absentee ballots may be cast at that site for the purpose of observation of an election and the absentee ballot voting process, except a candidate whose name appears on the ballot at the polling place or on an absentee ballot to be cast at the clerk's office or alternate site at that election. The chief inspector or municipal clerk may reasonably limit the number of persons representing the same organization who are permitted to observe under this subsection at the same time. Each person permitted to observe under this subsection shall print his or her name in and sign and date a log maintained by the chief inspector or municipal clerk for that polling place, office, or alternate site.
The chief inspector or municipal clerk may restrict the location of any individual exercising the right under sub. (1)
to certain areas within a polling place, the clerk's office, or alternate site under s. 6.855
. The chief inspector or municipal clerk shall clearly designate observation areas for election observers under sub. (1)
. The observation areas shall be not less than 3 feet from nor more than 8 feet from the table at which electors announce their name and address to be issued a voter number at the polling place, office, or alternate site and not less than 3 feet from nor more than 8 feet from the table at which a person may register to vote at the polling place, office, or alternate site. The observation areas shall be so positioned to permit any election observer to readily observe all public aspects of the voting process.
The chief inspector or municipal clerk may order the removal of any individual exercising the right under sub. (1)
if that individual commits an overt act which does any of the following:
Disrupts the operation of the polling place, clerk's office, or alternate site under s. 6.855
No individual exercising the right under sub. (1)
may view the confidential portion of a registration list maintained under s. 6.36 (4)
or a poll list maintained under s. 6.79 (6)
. However, the inspectors or municipal clerk shall disclose to such an individual, upon request, the existence of such a list, the number of electors whose names appear on the list, and the number of those electors who have voted at any point in the proceedings. No such individual may view the certificate of an absent elector who obtains a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
The commission shall promulgate rules that are consistent with the requirements of sub. (2)
regarding the proper conduct of individuals exercising the right under sub. (1)
, including the interaction of those individuals with inspectors and other election officials.