Absentee Voting in Wisconsin

August 19, 2020

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has found its way into the national spotlight as the 2020 presidential election, COVID-19, and absentee voting loom large over the landscape.  The USPS is an independent agency of the executive branch of the federal government that provides postal service in the United States.  In fact, the USPS is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution under Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, also known as the “Postal Clause.”  In other words, it is not your standard for-profit business as you often hear it described in the news.  Moreover, the USPS receives zero tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.

The USPS finds itself in the news this year as voters have concerns about the safety of in-person voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ability of the USPS to deliver absentee ballots to municipal clerks on time. If you share these concerns, now is a great time to register to vote for the first time or verify and update your current voter registration, and vote absentee in Wisconsin in a safe and timely manner.

In Wisconsin, the first thing a voter needs to do is confirm that your voter registration is up to date or, simply register to vote.  You can register to vote online or by mail by October 14, 2020, or at your municipal clerk’s office by October 30.  You can also simultaneously register and vote in person at a polling place on Election Day on November 3, as long as you provide a valid photo ID and proof of residence.

If you choose to vote in-person absentee, most municipalities in Wisconsin may begin offering in-person absentee voting October 20 through November 1.  However, each municipality can set its own dates and hours of in-person absentee voting.  In-person absentee voting cannot occur more than two weeks before an election.  To find the dates and hours for in-person absentee voting where you live, contact your municipal clerk.

If you want to avoid the risk of COVID-19 and avoid any sort of in-person voting, whether it be by in-person absentee ballot or voting in-person on Election Day, any registered voter can request an absentee ballot online without an excuse.  For the November 3, 2020 election, the State of Wisconsin is mailing absentee-ballot applications to all registered voters.  Election officials must receive your application by October 29.

Once you have your absentee ballot, you must fill it out and make sure that it is signed by a witness and received by the municipal clerk by November 3.

Given all of the news about the USPS, inevitable lawsuits related to voting laws around the country, and COVID-19, this may be the year to visit My Vote Wisconsin to register or confirm your voter registration, request an absentee ballot, and put a plan in place to mail or deliver your ballot by November 3, 2020.