New law changes the rules on votingElection clerks in Douglas County are urging voters to plan ahead. Douglas County Clerk Susan Sandvick and Superior City Clerk Terri Kalan urge voters to plan now to make sure they have the right photo ID to vote starting in February 2012.
Election clerks in Douglas County are urging voters to plan ahead.
Douglas County Clerk Susan Sandvick and Superior City Clerk Terri Kalan urge voters to plan now to make sure they have the right photo ID to vote starting in February 2012.
Voter Photo ID became law in Wisconsin in June, and most people already have the photo ID required to vote. In addition to requiring voters to show an acceptable photo ID to receive a ballot, the law contains other important changes to the voting process.
On Election Day, voters must show one of eight different kinds of photo ID to receive a ballot. Four of the most common types of acceptable photo IDs are a Wisconsin driver license or state ID, a military ID card or U.S. Passport. These photo IDs are valid even if they’ve expired after the most recent general election, which was Nov. 2.
Four other kinds of photo ID are also acceptable, if they have not expired: A Certificate of Naturalization; a driver license or state ID card receipt issued by the DMV; an ID issued by a federally recognized Wisconsin Indian tribe; or a photo ID issued by a Wisconsin accredited university or college that meets certain requirements, and is accompanied by proof of enrollment.
Many Wisconsin colleges and universities are issuing special student ID cards that comply with the law or modifying existing student ID cards. Students who do not have one of the other acceptable forms of ID should check with their school for more information.
It is important for voters to know their photo ID is not required to include a current address. The purpose of requiring a photo ID is to prove your identity, not where you live. Also, the name on your photo ID does not have to match your name on the poll list exactly For example, Jim is acceptable for James and Sue is OK for Susan.
If you do not have a valid Wisconsin driver license or state ID card, you can receive a free state ID card from your local Department of Motor Vehicles, but you must request it. Contact your local DVM or your local clerk for more information.
Another important change on Election Day is voters must sign the poll book next to their name to receive a ballot. Voters should sign the poll book as they would normally sign any other legal document. Voters with physical disabilities may be exempt from signing.
You can still register to vote Election Day, but voter registration requirements have changed. A person must be a resident of the jurisdiction in which they wish to vote for 28 consecutive days, instead of the previous 10-day residency requirement.
The Voter Photo ID Law also made important changes to absentee voting.
During in-person absentee voting at the clerk’s office, voters must present a photo ID. The period for in-person absentee voting has been shortened. It now begins the third Monday before the election, and ends at 5 p.m. or the close of business, whichever is later, the Friday before the election.
A Photo ID will also be required for mail-in absentee voting, and most absentee voters must provide a photocopy of their photo ID card with their absentee ballot request. Voters who fax or email the clerk to request an absentee ballot may return a photocopy of their photo ID with their completed ballot.
There is an important exception for voters in nursing homes and care facilities, as well as those at home who are “indefinitely confined” due to age, physical illness or infirmity, or who are disabled for an indefinite period. Instead of providing a copy of their photo ID, they may have their absentee witness verify their identity. If you meet the definition of an “indefinitely confined voter,” please contact your local clerk for information about your voting rights.
For specific questions on how the new Voter ID law affects you, contact the Douglas County Clerk’s Office at (715) 395-1341 or the Superior City Clerk’s Office at (715) 395-7200, or your local municipal clerk.
Voters are also encouraged to visit the Wisconsin Government Accountability’s Voter ID website, http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/photo-id, for additional information.