Lassa Column: Time to Exercise Your Most Important Right
By State Senator Julie Lassa
On Tuesday, November 4, people in Wisconsin and all over the United States will have the opportunity to exercise their most important right as citizens of a democracy – the right to vote. Voting is the cornerstone of self-government and each of us who cares about our future has a responsibility to play our part in choosing who will lead our state and nation. Here is some helpful voting information for the November General Election.
Wisconsin law allows you to vote early by casting an absentee ballot, either by mail or in person at your local municipal clerk’s office. You do not need to state any reason for voting absentee. You can complete an absentee ballot at the clerk’s office until Friday, October 31; contact your clerk to find out their hours of operation. Thursday, October 30 is the last day to request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you. Ballots must mailed and postmarked no later than Election Day, and must be received by the clerk by 4.p.m. on the following Friday, November 7. If you want to drop off your absentee ballot in person, you must do so by Election Day, either by delivering it to the clerk’s office or bringing it to your polling place by the time the polls close at 8 p.m.
There are different deadlines for absentee voting by military personnel, overseas residents, hospitalized and confined individuals, and other classes of voters. Check with the Government Accountability Board’s myvote.wi.gov website or call your municipal clerk to find out more.
Wisconsin law also allows same day voter registration at the polls. In order to register you must be an American citizen, be at least 18 years old on Election Day and have lived at your current residence for at least 28 days. You will need to register if this is your first time voting, and you may have to reregister if you haven’t voted in the last four years or if you have changed your name or address. To register at the polls, you’ll need to provide your proof of residence which includes documents such as a driver’s license or state ID, a utility bill, a paycheck, a bank statement, Social Security or Medicare correspondence, or a hunting or fishing license that lists your name and current address. You can no longer have a spouse or acquaintance vouch for your residency.
Although Wisconsin has adopted a voter ID law, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the law cannot be enforced for the November 4 election, so you will NOT need a photo ID to vote. To find out more about what proof of residency documents are acceptable, contact your municipal clerk or visit myvote.wi.gov. You can also register to vote prior to Election Day in person at the clerk’s office through 5:00 p.m. or the close of business, whichever is later, on Friday, October 31.
Remember that polls across the state open at 7 a.m. on November 4 and close at 8 p.m. If you are in line to vote by 8, you will be allowed to cast your ballot.
As I’ve indicated, the GAB’s myvote.wi.gov website is a wealth of information that will help you cast your ballot. You can learn more about voting eligibility requirements, deadlines for registration and absentee voting, check if you are registered to vote, as well as finding out which polling place you vote at and which races and referenda will be on your ballot. You can also get the address and phone number of your local municipal clerk’s office. If you don’t have Internet access you can call toll free at 1-866-VOTE-WIS, or contact the GAB Help Desk at 608-261-2028, or TTY 1-800-947-3529.
Generations of American patriots died to preserve our right to have a say in our government. We owe it to them to exercise that right by casting our vote. Let’s not let them down.