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 two 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.
CANVASS OF RETURNS AND CERTIFICATION
Elector intent. 7.50(1)(1)
Requirements and restrictions. 7.50(1)(a)(a)
Except as provided in s. 7.15 (6)
, only ballots provided by the person authorized to have them printed shall be cast and counted in any election.
When an elector casts more votes for any office or measure than he or she is entitled to cast at an election, all the elector's votes for that office or measure are invalid and the elector is deemed to have voted for none of them, except as provided in par. (c)
and sub. (2) (d)
. If an elector casts less votes for any office or measure than he or she is entitled to cast at an election, all votes cast by the elector shall be counted but no vote shall be counted more than once.
If an elector casts more than one vote for the same candidate for the same office, the first vote is valid and the remaining votes are invalid.
Whenever an electronic voting system is used at a polling place in a partisan primary, and the same ballot is utilized to cast votes for candidates of more than one recognized political party or candidates of a party and independent candidates, if an elector designates a preference for a party or for independent candidates, only votes cast within that preference category may be counted. If an elector does not designate a preference and makes a mark opposite candidates of more than one recognized political party or opposite a candidate in the independent candidates' column and a candidate of a recognized political party, no votes cast by the elector for any candidate for partisan office are valid. Votes for other candidates and votes on ballot questions, if any, shall be counted if otherwise valid.
Ascertainment of intent.
All ballots cast at an election which bear the initials of 2 inspectors shall be counted for the person or referendum question for whom or for which they were intended, so far as the electors' intent can be ascertained from the ballots notwithstanding informality or failure to fully comply with other provisions of chs. 5
. To determine intent:
A ballot cast without any marks may not be counted. A ballot without a mark at the top of a party column may be counted only for persons for whom marks are applicable.
If an elector marks a ballot with a cross (✘
), or any other marks, as |, A, V, O, /, ✓
, +, within the square to the right of a candidate's name, or any place within the space in which the name appears, indicating an intent to vote for that candidate, it is a vote for the candidate whose name it is opposite.
Any apparent erasure of a mark next to the name of a candidate may not be counted as a vote for that candidate if the elector makes another mark next to the name of one or more different candidates for the same office and counting of the mark would result in an excess number of votes cast for the office.
If an elector writes a person's name in the proper space for write-in candidates for an office, it is a vote for the person written in for the office indicated, regardless of whether the elector strikes the names appearing in the same column for the same office, or places a mark by the same or any other name for the same office, or omits placing a mark to the right of the name written in. If an elector is permitted to vote for more than one candidate for the same office in an election and casts one or more write-in votes which, when added to the votes cast for candidates whose names appear on the ballot, exceed the number of votes authorized to be cast for the office, the write-in votes shall be counted and the votes for candidates whose names appear on the ballot may not be counted, unless there are more write-in votes than votes authorized to be cast, in which case no votes may be counted for the office.
Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, write-in votes shall only be counted if no candidates have been certified to appear on the ballot. If a candidate has been certified to appear on the ballot, write-in votes may only be counted for a candidate that files a registration statement under s. 11.0202 (1) (a)
no later than noon on the Friday immediately preceding the election. If a candidate certified to appear on the ballot dies or withdraws before the election, all write-in votes shall be counted. When write-in votes are counted, every vote shall be counted for the candidate for whom it was intended, if the elector's intent can be ascertained from the ballot itself.
In partisan primaries, if an elector writes in the name of an individual on a ballot other than the one on which that individual's name is shown as a candidate, the write-in vote may not be counted.
In the general election or a partisan special election, a write-in vote may not be counted for any candidate if the candidate's name appears on the official ballot, except a write-in vote cast for the same office under which the candidate's name appears if no other similar name appears on the ballot for any office.
In a nonpartisan primary or election using voting machines if an elector is permitted to vote for more than one candidate for the same office, a write-in vote may not be counted if the vote is cast for a candidate whose name appears on the ballot for that office.
The failure by an elector to write in the name of a candidate for the office of vice president of the United States on the general election ballot does not invalidate the elector's vote for any candidate whose name is written in for the office of president of the United States. The failure of an elector to write in the name of a candidate for the office of president of the United States on the general election ballot invalidates the elector's vote for any candidate whose name is written in for the office of vice president of the United States. The failure of an elector to write in the name of a candidate for the office of governor or lieutenant governor on the general election ballot does not invalidate the elector's vote for any candidate whose name is written in for the office of governor or lieutenant governor alone.
If an elector votes for an independent candidate for the office of governor or lieutenant governor but does not vote for any candidate as a running mate of that candidate for the office of lieutenant governor or governor, the vote cast by the elector shall be recorded as a vote cast for both offices and shall not be cumulated with a vote cast by any other elector for the same candidate for the same office jointly with any vote cast for a running mate of that candidate. If an elector votes for independent candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, the vote cast by the elector shall not be cumulated with a vote cast by any other elector for one but not both of the candidates for whom the elector casts his or her vote.
If an elector writes in an individual for an office, it is a vote for that office, even if the elector writes in the name of a different office.