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Frequently Asked Questions - Voter Photo ID Law

FAQs about Voter Photo ID, 2011 AB 7.

No.  A voter who casts a ballot pursuant to § 6.82 (1) Wis Stats. is not required to sign the poll list under § 6.79 (1m) Wis. Stats.  Election inspectors shall mark the poll list “Ballot received at poll entrance-exempt.”
 

Photo IDs issued by the Department of Veteran Affairs or by the Transportation Administration are not acceptable photo ID for voting purposes.  “Military ID” is not the language used in the photo ID law to describe an acceptable form of photo ID.  Instead, the photo ID law permits an identification card issued by a U.S. uniformed service to be used as proof of identification for voting purposes.  Sec. 5.02(6m)(a)3., Wis. Stats.  A U.S. uniformed service is defined as and limited to the following: 

  1. United States Army
  2. United States Marine Corps,
  3. United States Navy
  4. United States Air Force
  5. United States Coast Guard
  6. United States Public Health Services Commissioned Corps;
  7. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps.

 Sec. 6.22(1)(c), Wis. Stats.

Therefore, only an identification card issued by one of these seven entities will be accepted as an identification card issued by a U.S. uniformed services for purposes of the photo ID law.  The identification card should be unexpired or if expired has expired after the date of the most recent general election.  In addition, the elector is not required to be an active member of the uniformed service in order to use the identification card for voting purposes on Election Day.
 

No.  Act 23 does not provide for collecting any information by election inspectors when a voter presents photo ID to receive a ballot, such as such as driver license number, date of birth, name, etc. for purposes of voter record maintenance.  While there would be some benefit to using the opportunity to collect and correct data, the sole purpose of displaying photo ID at the polling place is to obtain a ballot, and the law does not intend to create additional steps to confirm or correct registration information.  Such a process also raises concerns about confidential information being made public, additional delays at the polling place, and making changes in registration data without the voter's written acknowledgment or affirmation.

Municipal clerks deliver all ballots, statements, tally sheets, lists and envelopes, excluding any absentee ballots received after closing hour on election night and any provisional ballots, related to any county, school district or special purpose district election to the appropriate clerks by 4:00 p.m. on the day following each such election. The municipal clerk shall deliver to the county clerk any additional provisional and absentee ballots canvassed late together with amended statements, tally sheets, lists, and envelopes no later than 4 p.m. on the Monday following the election.  Wis. Stat. § 7.51(5)(b).

Election inspectors are not required under 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 to compare the signature to any other record.  Voters should be directed to sign using their normal signature as they would sign any other official document and election inspectors should indicate the line number on which the voter is to sign.  The law does not require voter signatures to be legible. 

While voters are not required to show a photo ID to obtain a ballot in 2011 elections, inspectors must ask every voter for an ID.  Inspectors may not be selective by asking only certain voters for an ID while issuing a ballot to other voters without making the request.  Even if you know the voter, you must still ask them for ID.

Prior to the 2012 February Primary, do not post signs in or outside the polling place with language such as “Photo ID Required” or “Please have ID ready” as they may discourage voters without ID from entering or remaining at the polling place.  The “Wisconsin New Voter Photo ID Law” handout is the only document that should be posted regarding photo ID.

The G.A.B. recommends that the “Wisconsin New Voter Photo ID Law” handout be posted near the entrance to the polling place.  Staff has received reports that some voters without photo ID heard others in line saying a photo ID was required, and left before getting the handout and learning they were able to vote without a photo ID. 

Yes.  The voter is given a ballot.  The voter is not required to take the handout to receive a ballot.  During the soft implementation phase, inspectors also should not engage in a back-and-forth discussion with voters who refuse to present an ID.

Proof of residency is required for voter registration (in most situations) and must be current and valid.  The purpose of the proof of residency document is to establish the voter’s current address, not to prove that the voter complies with the 28 consecutive day residency requirement.  The voter’s sworn statement on the registration form that they meet the 28-day requirement shall be presumed to be true unless the inspector or a challenger has first-hand knowledge sufficient to question the certification.

Photo ID is required upon voting before a ballot is issued to voters.  The purpose of photo ID is to verify the identity of the voter.  For additional information regarding what constitutes an acceptable photo ID, please see the “Wisconsin New Voter Photo ID Law” handout.

No.  Inspectors are not required to write down the type of photo ID presented.

State law requires election inspectors to:

  • verify that the photo ID is unexpired or, if expired, it meets the expiration specifications (see acceptable forms of photo ID in the Wisconsin New Voter Photo ID handout) 
  • verify that the photo ID reasonably resembles the voter
  • verify the name conforms to the name on the voter list (name variations are allowed)

No. An acceptable photo ID is not required to contain a current residential address and is not required to match the address on the voter list.

No.  Absentee Voters only need to sign the Absentee Certificate Envelope (GAB-122).

If the missing information was proof of residence, the voter must appear in person.  If the missing information is the driver license number, they may mail, fax, email or telephone the information to the municipal clerk.

No.  The voter must only show the photo ID to the municipal clerk.

Yes.  Municipal clerks must be available at least until 5 p.m. on these deadlines.  If municipal clerks do not have set office hours, voters must be provided information where they may readily contact the municipal clerk.  If the municipal clerk will not be available, a deputy clerk must be appointed to provide coverage.

If the voter refuses to sign the poll list, a ballot shall not be issued. 

However, electors who have a disability that prevents them from physically being able to sign the poll list are exempt from this provision.  If another person signed the voter’s registration form because the voter was unable to sign due to disability, the election inspector writes the word “exempt” on the signature line.  If the voter is already registered but the voter claims to be unable to sign due to physical disability, and both inspectors concur, the inspectors shall enter the words “exempt by order of inspectors” on the signature line.  If both inspectors do not waive the signature requirement, the voter shall be allowed to cast a ballot and the inspector or inspectors who did not waive the requirement shall challenge the ballot.

No.  Municipal clerks are not required to track expiration dates for photo IDs submitted by mail-in absentee voters.  Regardless of when the photo ID expires, once the voter has provided photo ID with their absentee application they are not required to provide photo ID again with subsequent absentee ballot requests, unless their registration status changes (address or name change will require them to complete another Voter Registration Application GAB-131).

University and college students may use their student photo ID in conjunction with a fee payment receipt that contains the student’s residential address dated no earlier than nine months before the election.  University and college students may also use their student photo ID if the university or college has provided a certified list to the municipal clerk of students, containing the students’ residential addresses and indicating which students are U.S. citizens.

If the university or college student ID has not expired, contains the student's photo and signature, as well as the date of issuance and expiration date no later than two years after issuance, the student ID is an acceptable form of photo ID, if the student also establishes that he or she is enrolled as a student by furnishing documentation from the university or college.

There is no requirement for voters to provide photo ID for any election prior to the 2012 February Primary.  For elections beginning with the 2012 February Primary, homeless voters are not exempt from the photo ID requirement.

Although photo ID is not required for mail-in absentee voter for any election prior to the 2012 February Primary, if the voter voluntary provides photo ID, the municipal clerk must maintain a record that photo was provided.  Municipal clerks must retain the photo ID for the retention period provided in §7.23, Wis. Stats. (22 months for absentee requests for federal elections, 90 days for all other elections.)

Once a mail-in absentee voter has provided photo ID, he or she is not required to provide photo ID again with subsequent absentee ballot requests, unless his or her registration status changes (address or name change will require them to complete another Voter Registration Application GAB-131).

Mail-in absentee electors should not be asked to show or provide a photo ID for any elections before the 2012 February Primary.  However, if a mail-in absentee elector voluntarily provides a copy of photo ID (not required until spring 2012) with their absentee application, municipal clerks will need to maintain a record documenting photo ID was provided.

For any election prior to the 2012 February Primary, there is no consequence if the election inspector does not believe the photo ID reasonably resembles the voter.  For elections beginning with the 2012 February Primary, election inspectors would challenge the voter’s ballot.  When challenging the voter for this reason, election inspectors must be convinced that the photo ID is not that of the voter.

The progression is as follows:

Voter who possesses a WI driver license:

•    If it is current and valid (not revoked, suspended or expired)

o        Voter must provide the license number
o        If they cannot or won’t provide the number, they can register and vote provisionally

•    If driver license is revoked, suspended or expired OR if voter can provide the number but is uncertain if license is revoked, suspended or expired

o        Voter is asked to provide DL# and last 4 digits of SS#
o        If they provide just the SS#--they register and vote normally
o        If they provide just the DL#--they may not register and they may not vote

Voter who does not possess a WI driver license

•    Must provide either state-issued ID number or the last 4 digits of their SS# (emphasis on the former, rather than the latter).

o        If neither number is provided, they may not register and they may not vote.

Voter who possesses neither a WI driver license nor a state ID nor an SS#

•    Fills in the circle indicating they have none

 

New Free State ID Card Policy for People without Birth Certificates

The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles has a new policy starting September 15, 2014 to help people who need a free state ID card for voting.

Wisconsin law requires the Department of Transportation to provide free ID cards to any individual who will be at least 18 years of age on the date of the next election and who requests a free ID for the purpose of voting. The regular fee is $28.

For information about getting a state identification card, please visit the DOT's website:

http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/idcard.htm

Due to the need to provide a birth certificate and/or other documents to receive a DOT-issued ID, individuals should start the process of obtaining a statutory identification well in advance of an election at which they wish to vote.  You may also consult our pamphlet on how to get a free state ID card.

 

  • A Wisconsin DoT-issued driver license
  • A Wisconsin DoT-issued identification card
  • An identification card issued by a U.S. uniformed service
  •  A U.S. passport
  • (Identifications above must be unexpired, or if expired, have expired after the date of the most recent general election [November 6, 2012].)

  • A certificate of naturalization that was issued not earlier than two years before the date of an election at which it is presented
  • An unexpired driving receipt issued by Wisconsin DoT.
  • An unexpired identification card receipt issued by Wisconsin DoT.
  • An identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin
  • An unexpired identification card issued by a Wisconsin-accredited university or college that contains the following:

-- Date of Issuance
-- Signature of Student
-- Expiration date not later than two years after Date of Issuance

Voter Photo ID provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 are currently enjoined orders of by two Wisconsin circuit courts. Those decisions have been appealed by the Attorney General, but until they are resolved, no photo ID is required to receive a ballot in Wisconsin.

If you are registering to vote AND you have a Wisconsin driver license or state ID, you are required to provide the license or ID number on the application form. If the driver license or state ID card has your current address, you may use it to provide proof of residence.