Frequently Asked Questions
A Detailed Guide for
Voter Registration in Wisconsin
As of January 9,
2017, Special Registration Deputies are eliminated by
2015 Act 261.
Online paperless registration
is now available for eligible voters with a Wisconsin driver license or
state ID card.
and videos on the new online system
Most of the questions below
refer to registration for those who do not have a Wisconsin driver license
or state ID card.
What are acceptable POR documents?
Valid forms of proof
of residence must include the voter’s name and current address,
and are any of the following:
proof of residence is acceptable.) Statute
"Proof of residence
Any document issued by a government
of government include city, town or village clerk or treasurer’s office,
county clerk or treasurer, public high school, technical college, public
university, UW Hospital, and all local, state, or federal
A current and valid Wisconsin driver
license or identification card.
Any other official identification card or
license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit.
Any identification card issued by an
employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the
cardholder, but not including a business card.
A real estate tax bill or receipt for the
current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
A university, college, or technical
college identification card (must include photo) ONLY if the voter
provides a fee receipt dated within the last 9 months or the institution
provides a certified housing list to the municipal clerk.
A gas, electric, or telephone service statement (utility
bill) for the period commencing no earlier than 90 days before
Bank statement or
credit card statement.
An affidavit on public or private social
service agency letterhead identifying a homeless voter and describing
the individual’s residence for voting purposes.
Residential lease that is effective on
date of registration (not valid if registering by mail or through a
non-SRD voter registration drive).
An intake document from a residential care facility such as a nursing
home or assisted living facility (added by
*State units of
government include Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV or DOT), Department of
Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Workforce Development (DWD),
Department of Human Services, and many others. Federal units of
government include Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Medicare (not second
party vendors), Social Security, and many others. Documents from
governments from other states are acceptable.
Is POR the same as
No, although some documents could be used for both if they show the voter's
current address. Examples are a Wisconsin driver license, or a tribal
Photo ID is needed to get a ballot on Election Day or if voting by
What is the simplest
way for UW students to prove residency?
UW is a government institution, so any document (paper or electronic) issued
that has the voter's name and address is acceptable proof of residence.
For UW-Madison, the easiest is using their Student Center (under MyUW) or at
See this document on
tips for registering UW-Madison students.
On the UW document that is
mentioned above, there is no account number or student number.
Therefore, no POR number is needed.
government documents no additional item is
needed. This includes public high schools and public technical schools such
as Madison College. See
Electronic Proof of
Residence for other examples of government documents.
What is available to
students of private colleges?
All students may use any of the forms of POR. A POR especially for
students is the school ID card that shows photo, name and address; along with a fee payment receipt dated
within the last 9 months. If the ID
card does not include the address, this method may not be used.
requirements are different than the student photo ID requirements to get a
ballot. Those are in statute
Is UW Hospital and
Clinics a government Agency?
Yes, documents issued by UWHC are government documents, per an email from
Diane Lowe of the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC). UWHC is governed by
However, the UW Medical Foundation and Unity Health are not government
agencies. Wisconsin Election Protection has a two page pdf
document of POR examples.
Is there a
time limit on how old a proof of residence document can be?
For many types of proof of residence, there is no limit on how old the
document can be. Here are the time limits to keep in mind when checking
proof of residence:
If there is an expiration date on the document, the document cannot
be expired. For example, a voter cannot use an expired bartender
license, expired driver license, expired ID, or expired fishing
license to prove where they live.
document is a utility bill, it cannot be a bill for more than 90
document is a residential lease, it must be in effect on the day of
document is a tax bill, it must be from the current year or from the
document is a private college fee receipt (accompanied by student
ID), the fee receipt must be from the past nine months.
Driver License Number Questions
If the applicant has a current and valid
Wisconsin driver license or DOT ID card, must the number be put on the registration form?
Yes, per the federal Help America Vote Act and Wisconsin administrative
rule EL 3.02. If
the applicant does not have a current and valid Wisconsin driver license (DL) or DOT ID
card, the voter provides the
last four digits of their Social Security number (SSN).
An exception is for Election Day registration.
If the voter cannot provide their license number, they can register and get
a provisional ballot.
Rule EL 3.04(2)
Does the applicant have
to show the driver license?
No, unless they are also using it as proof of residence. However, they
should fill out their name exactly as it is on the license. The
databases are cross-checked, and if there is no match, there is follow-up
needed by the clerk with the applicant. (The voter should include the entire middle name.)
What if someone registering to vote has an
out-of-state driver license?
The individual should use the last four digits of his or her Social
An applicant lost his Wisconsin driver license,
does not remember the number, and has not had a chance to get a new one.
What do they do?
According to the law, they cannot
register without the driver license number. They can call the DOT driver
license information during working hours at 608-266-2353, press 1, 4, 4, and
1. The DOT will need Social Security number and date of birth.
(If they are trying to register on Election Day, they can be given a provisional ballot, which gives them
until Friday after the election to provide the missing information.)
Should the applicant list their WI driver license
number if it has expired, been revoked, or suspended?
Since their license is not “current
and valid”, this number is not required. They must list the last
four digits of their Social Security number.
EL 3.04 (1).
However, the instructions
on the back of the registration form direct voters in this situation to list
both the DL number and the last four digits of their Social Security
number. The WEC asks for this because it is the best way for them to meet
the federal requirement to match the data with the DL database or the SSN
Are driver instruction
permits handled the same as a standard driver license?
Yes, according to the WEC.
How is a voter registered if they indicate on the
form that they have neither a DL nor a social security number?
The voter is registered without a
number. Section 2 of the registration form instructions calls for the
filling in the appropriate circle. However,
this is extremely rare and this situation should be double-checked with the
applicant. Administrative Rule
EL 3.02 (4)
Residency and Address
How is residency defined?
"The residence of a person is the
place where the person's habitation is fixed, without any present intent to
move, and to which, when absent, the person intends to return.”
In order to vote, how long do I need to live
An applicant needs to be a resident
for 10 consecutive days before an election.
23 changed this from 10 days to 28 consecutive days, but
Judge Peterson's order changed it back to 10 days.
In order to register, how long do I need to live
You can register as soon as you move
in. “Individuals may complete and submit a registration
form upon establishing a physical presence at a location with the requisite
intent at least 28 days prior to an election, even if the individual has not
yet resided there for 28 consecutive days.”
Note that 28 is now 10 according to
Judge Peterson's order. Email from Michael Haas, attorney for
the Government Accountability Board, 8/16/2012
What if I was
gone every weekend?
“Temporary absence does
not affect residency. If you are away from your permanent residence for the
weekend, that time still counts if you intended to return."
I am moving later than 10 days before the
election. Where do I vote?
You vote at your old polling place.
If you will not be able to get to your old polling place on Election Day,
contact your municipal clerk to arrange to vote by absentee ballot. Then
before the next election, re-register using your new address.
I am a student here for 8 months of the year.
Where should I register?
You have the option to register in the
municipality where you are a student.
Alternatively, you may register in your hometown. If you have been
previously registered elsewhere, you are required to list your old address
in section 7 of the form, so your old registration can be canceled.
6.10 (4) “The residence of a … student who boards at different places
for part of the … year, if one of the places is the residence of the
person's parents, is the place of the parents' residence unless through
registration or similar act the person elects to establish a residence
I am leaving to
study abroad for a year. Do I lose my right to vote?
No. “It is possible for a
person to be temporarily absent from his place of residence even though that
absence continues one or two years, or more.” And: “Therefore, the fact
that a voter can point to no present address within that election district
as the specific place to which he intends to return will not necessarily
preclude him from claiming his residence in that district.”
Opinions of the Attorney General, 1971, page 220
If a student leaves for the summer, where do they
vote for a summer election, such as the August primary?
Students might fall into one
of these three groups:
for the summer with intent to return. If they do not intend to
establish residency at any place they stay until returning for school in the
fall, then they may vote absentee from their school address until they have
resided for 10 days
at a new school address.
“A person shall not lose residence when the person leaves home and goes into
another state or county, town, village or ward of this state for temporary
purposes with an intent to return.”
their school residence permanently in May, and moving to another location in
Wisconsin. For the next election, they must register
in their new location.
their school address permanently with intent to make permanent residence
outside of Wisconsin. They are no longer a Wisconsin resident and may not
vote in Wisconsin.
How can we make sure an address is in a certain
Go to “myvote.wi.gov”,
a website run by the Wisconsin Election Commission. Use the "Find My Polling Place"
button. This can also be used to find the contact information for the municipal clerk.
The direct link is
alternative for those who are Dane County is
Access Dane. Reduce
errors and delays by checking every address.
Inform every voter about myvote.wi.gov,
which has sample ballots and a list of all your elected officials.
For previous address
(section 7), which address should be used?
The voter should enter the
address where they were most recently registered, even if it is
out-of-state. If the voter was not previously registered anywhere,
this does NOT need to be filled out. Email from David
Buerger of the, former GAB staff member.
If previously registered
in Wisconsin, they can look up the address at
myvote.wi.gov, using the
Register to Vote
button, and entering their
name and birth date.
Without this information,
this registrant might be linked by the clerk to the wrong existing voter,
and the wrong voter will be removed from their poll list. At the very
least, enter as much information about the old address as can be remembered,
even if registered in another state.
23 added this to the registration form, statute
General Registration Questions
Does my registration “expire” if I don’t vote for
a period of time?
myvote.wi.gov to see if your
registration is current.
If listed as inactive, you must re-register. Here are two ways
your registration might become inactive:
1) Every two years after the November election, the
registration list is revised. Those who have not voted in four years are
notified that their registration will be suspended. If they do not respond,
they are moved to ineligible status. Therefore, voters who only vote in
presidential elections remain on the list of registered voters.
2) Each time you register,
a verification postcard is sent to your address.
If the postcard is returned
undelivered, the clerk will investigate.
If they clerk cannot verify your residency, your status is changed to
and for Election Day registrants
6.56(3) Also see
Are felons eligible?
In Section 10 of the registration form, the applicant must certify, “I
am not currently serving a sentence including probation or parole for a
Section 3 of the registration form asks for
email address and phone number. Is this required?
This information is optional. However, the phone number is particularly
information helpful if the clerk needs to
follow-up with the voter with problems. This information is subject to open
What if an applicant misses the early registration
deadline (20 days before the election)?
They may register at their clerk’s
office or other early voting location for their municipality. This is called “late registration” in
6.29. The last day
for this is the Friday before the election. They may also register at their
polling place on Election Day. Early registration is strongly
changed my name. Should I re-register?
Yes, if your ID has
also been updated to show your new name. On Election Day when you
present your ID to get a ballot, the name on your ID must be close to the
name under which you are registered.
Details of name changes from the WEC.
17-year olds register?
From section 10 of the registration form:
"I hereby certify, to the best of my knowledge,
that I am a qualified elector, a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old or will
be at least 18 years old at the time of the next election."
General Questions about
What mistakes can occur on the completed form?
Check that the birth year is reasonable. Sometimes applicants write in
Check that the driver license number has 14 characters. The expiration
month and day usually is the same as the birth month and day. Checking for
this match also checks that both are on the form.
Check that the form has been signed and dated.
Check that the address is complete and all data is legible.
If “Address Change” in section 1 is checked, check that the old address is
in section 7.
An election official enters the information concerning the proof of residence in section 11: type,
issuing entity, and specific portion of the identifying number.
What is the deadline for submitting registration
forms by mail?
The application may be mailed to the clerk but
must be postmarked no later than the 3rd Wednesday before the
election, according to
statute 6.28 (1).
What information is
Confidential information includes: Date of birth, driver license number,
DOT issued state ID number, Social Security number, proof of residence
account number, and information about elector accommodation, e.g. wheelchair
access. Administrative rule
EL 3.20 (2)
May I use my
tablet or laptop to help voters show POR?
Take these precautions.
Set your tablet or laptop so that it does not prompt to remember passwords.
For instance, in Chrome, SETTINGS...SHOW ADVANCED SETTINGS, then
uncheck OFFER TO SAVE PASSWORDS. Also, make sure that the voter logs
May another person help the applicant fill out the
registration form if they have vision or other problems?
Yes, and then the applicant should sign it.
A different situation
occurs if the applicant cannot sign the form. Then someone may assist by
signing on behalf of the applicant. The assistant must complete section 12,
which includes the signature and address of the assistant. Statute
When is early registration?
Early registration ends 20 days (a Wednesday) before the next
Upcoming election in 2017: April 4, 2017. Any special elections affect open registration.
Where can I find out more?
Why help people register to vote?
"...that government to be the strongest of which every man feels himself
a part." -- Thomas Jefferson to Edward Tiffin, 1807.
prepared by Paul Malischke, with help from others.
Web page by Paul Malischke
firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated
October 06, 2018