EAU CLAIRE — The deadline to request an absentee ballot in Wisconsin has come and gone, but as Election Day nears, there are still plenty of ways to vote — or get your ballot in. Here’s what people who still haven’t cast their ballot need to know.
Election Day is tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
When do the polls open on Tuesday? Polls are open in Wisconsin from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
I’m not sure if I’m registered to vote. To check if your address and name are up to date and you’re registered to vote, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/RegisterToVote and enter your name and address.
Do I still have time to register to vote? Yes. Wisconsin voters can register to vote at the polls on Tuesday, although the deadlines to register by mail, online or at a municipal clerk’s office have passed. To register, voters must bring a proof of residence document — for example, a current, valid Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card; a real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the previous year; a gas, electric or phone service utility bill for the period within 90 days of Election Day; a bank statement; or a paycheck or paystub, among other options. The proof of residence document must include the voter’s name and current residential address. Documents can be presented as a hard copy, paper document or electronic document via a smartphone, tablet or computer. For a full list of common proof of residence documents, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/ProofofResidence.
Is it risky to vote in person at my polling place? With precautions planned for polling sites — including sanitizing before and after voting, social distancing and masks — health experts say voting in person in Wisconsin has not been a significant source of COVID-19 infections. Eau Claire health officials said this summer that the April 7 election didn’t cause an increase in COVID-19 cases, though turnout is expected to be higher since a presidential race is on the ballot. In an August report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed, noting that “no clear increase in cases, hospitalizations, or deaths” were recorded after Wisconsin’s April election. (The CDC did note that major precautions were taken by poll workers and many voters, and turnout was lower compared to the April 2016 election.)
Do I have to wear a mask when I vote in person? No, but masks are strongly recommended. The Wisconsin Elections Commission “unanimously recommends all voters wear face coverings for voting on Election Day, but they are not required,” the commission said in a news release. Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate applies to poll workers and election observers, but not voters. Voters can’t be refused a ballot for not wearing a mask.
What can I do at my polling place to reduce COVID-19 risk? Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet apart from other voters, “especially those not wearing a mask,” the CDC said. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer often, the agency added.
Do I need to bring a photo ID if I’m voting in person? Yes. Most Wisconsin voters are required to show a photo ID when voting in person or absentee. The most common forms of photo ID are a Wisconsin driver’s license, a Wisconsin Department of Transportation-issued ID card, a military ID card issued by the U.S. Uniformed Services and a U.S. passport book or card, according to the state. Other acceptable photo IDs include a driver’s license or ID card receipt from the Wisconsin DOT that’s 45 or fewer days old; a Veteran Affairs ID card; an ID card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin; and others. For a full list of photo ID examples, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/PhotoIDRequired.
Should I wear political gear when I vote in person? Probably not. People who hand out political literature, carry signs or wear clothing with the names or slogans of candidates up for election when they vote can’t be deprived of their right to vote, but “penalties may follow,” according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Electioneering, considered to be any activity intended to influence voting at an election, is against the law within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place. Those rules also apply to poll workers and poll watchers, according to the WEC.
Can I vote in-person absentee in Eau Claire today? No. In-person absentee voting ended in the city of Eau Claire on Friday. Office hours vary by municipality; people living in other places in the Chippewa Valley can contact their municipal clerk for in-person absentee voting hours.
Do I still have time to request an absentee ballot? No. The deadline for state voters to request an absentee ballot by mail was Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
Do I still have time to mail in my absentee ballot? Absentee ballots can be returned up to 8 p.m. on Election Day — but local municipal clerks warned on Tuesday that it’s too late to drop them in the mail. Instead, return your absentee ballot to a secure ballot drop box, which are emptied every day by clerks; deliver it to your municipal clerk’s office; or deliver it to your polling place on Election Day by 8 p.m. To find your municipal clerk’s office, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyMunicipalClerk. To find a secure ballot drop box, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/VoteAbsentee, enter your name and date of birth, then click “Find my local absentee options.” Altoona voters can use the red ballot drop box outside of Altoona City Hall, 1303 Lynn Ave., City Clerk Cindy Bauer told the Leader-Telegram last week. City of Eau Claire voters can use the drop box located on Grand Avenue on the south side of City Hall, 203 S. Farwell St., in addition to three other drop boxes in the city of Eau Claire.
How long do I have to drop off my absentee ballot at a drop box? Secure ballot drop boxes are available until 7 a.m. on Election Day in Eau Claire.
I already mailed/handed in/dropped off my absentee ballot. Can I check the status of my ballot? Yes. To check the status of your absentee ballot, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/TrackMyBallot and enter your name and date of birth.
I’m in quarantine because I have or was exposed to COVID-19. I didn’t vote absentee — do I have any options? You may be able to vote curbside, according to the WEC. Call your municipal clerk, said Lieske Giese, director of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. Over 700 people in Eau Claire County are considered active cases of the virus, according to county data. “We know some people may get tested or told over the next few days that they are cases or close contacts to cases,” Giese said Thursday at a press conference. “If you are under orders for isolation or quarantine, there are still opportunities to vote given that situation. Please talk to your clerk.”
I’m in the hospital. Can I still request or return an absentee ballot? Yes. Voters who are hospitalized within seven days before the election can request a ballot be brought to them by an appointed agent, between Oct. 27 and 5 p.m. Nov. 3.
How do I find my polling place? To find your polling place, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace.
What’s on my ballot? For a list of races on your ballot, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-US/PreviewMyBallot and enter your address. To read the Leader-Telegram’s interviews with candidates in contested races, visit www.leadertelegram.com.