Revised: 3/26/2020 at 3:15 pm. Please note that it is now likely that there will be no open polling places on Election Day, April 7, 2020, at least in the City of Milwaukee. The only sure way to vote is to vote by mail with an absentee ballot. The rules for acquiring an absentee ballot have changed slightly to make it somewhat easier to obtain.
The coronavirus has disrupted most things, but our April 7 election remains on the schedule. You can of course show up at the polls on election day to cast your ballot (you can see a sample ballot and find your polling place at myvote.wi.gov) but you would be doing poll workers and yourself a huge favor if instead you vote by mail, using an absentee ballot.
There are TWO steps you have to perform:
- Request that your municipal clerk send you an absentee ballot.
- Fill out and mail the ballot back so that it arrives by 8pm on April 7 (otherwise your vote will not count).
To request an absentee ballot, you have to fill out a form. There are two routes you can take. The first is online.
- Use a computer or a smartphone and a browser to go to myvote.wi.gov.
- Click "Vote Absentee".
- Fill in your name and date of birth in the online application to check your registration status.
- Click the button "Request an Absentee Ballot" on the screen that displays your name, address, and registration status.
- Fill in the form requesting an absentee ballot. You can choose to request an absentee ballot for the April 7, 2020 election only or you can choose to request an absentee ballot for the August 11 election and the November 3 election as well. The request form may require you to upload a picture of your photo ID. Try to comply. If you cannot, go to the next step.
- Choose the box that says that you are "indefinitely confined." The coronavirus has rendered that statement true for everyone but do upload a picture of your photo ID if you are able to do so. If you are not able to upload a photo, choosing the box for indefinitely confined means that you will no longer need to provide a photo ID with your request form.
- The site will automatically send the request to your municipal clerk.
The second route is to print a copy of the form yourself. Once you have a copy, fill it out, and choose the box that says you're indefinitely confined if you are having a problem photographing and or printing a photo of your photo ID. Then mail the form to your municipal clerk. You can find a pdf of the request form on the site of the Wisconsin Election Commission. When you are filling out the form, we suggest that you request an absentee ballot for all elections for the remainder of 2020. You'll find that selection in box 6 of the form. You can find the mail address for your municipal clerk at myvote.wi.gov. Choose "Find My Polling Place". On the lefthand side of the screen you will see the name and some contact information for your municipal clerk. Clicking on the "More Information" button will bring up the mailing address.
As of March 19, Bayside and Whitefish Bay are sending forms to request an absentee ballot to every registered voter! Some other communities may be doing the same. And if Wisconsin takes steps now to have all votes by mail, we can heave a sigh of relief and avoid the risk of being contaminated at the polls or spreading the virus to others there. Wouldn't that be a good thing?
You can read the text of Milwaukee County Clerk George Christianson's memo: