A guide to first-time voting

Jessica Montez, Staff Writer

Voting for the first time can be a daunting task, but even for the seasoned veteran, voting from year to year can change drastically, especially when new voting laws take effect.  Before you get out and cast your vote, there are important questions to ask yourself and facts to know.

Are you eligible?
You are if you’re at least 18-years-old, a U.S. citizen, not a felon serving a sentence and have lived at their current residence in Wisconsin for at least 28 days prior to the election.

Are you registered to vote?
If this is your first election, you may need to register.  If this isn’t your first time, but you recently moved or changed your name, you will need to re-register. My Vote Wisconsin’s website, https://myvote.wi.gov/, for a step-by-step guide to registration, and a searchable database to check if you are already registered to vote.

There are 4 ways you can register to vote: By mail, Special Registration Deputy, Municipal Clerk’s Office, or at your polling place on Election Day.

If you choose to register in person on Election Day, you will need ID and proof of residence document.

If you’ve already registered, you do not need a photo ID. However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is providing free state ID cards. Go to http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/idcard.htm to learn how.

What do you need to register?
First, you will need a government issued I.D.  Examples of these include a Wisconsin driver license, state-issued ID card, U.S. Uniformed Service ID card, or U.S. Passport book or card.  Check that your ID is still valid and has not expired.

Second, you will need proof of residence that proves where you live in Wisconsin.  This includes a current utility bill or pay stub.

You will need both of these for registration.

What if I can’t vote on Election Day?
In the event you are not able to vote on Election Day, you can vote early by requesting an Absentee Ballot by Mail, E-Mail, Fax or In-person at your Municipal Clerk’s Office

Absentee Ballot requests submitted by mail, e-mail or fax, must be received by 4 p.m. on the Thursday before Election Day (Oct. 30), and before the close of business on Friday (Oct. 31), before the election if making a request in-person.

Ballots must be received by the Municipal Clerk’s office by end of Election Day (Nov. 4) at 8 p.m., or postmarked prior to Election Day and delivered no later than the Friday after Election Day (Nov. 7) if sent by U.S. Postal Service.

When do I vote?
Voting hours:
7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Employees are entitled to up to three hours leave to vote. Check with your employer for specific company policies and procedures.

Where do I vote?
My Vote Wisconsin provides your local polling place address, as well as a sample ballot with the names of state candidates and the candidates running in your district. It also lists the State Referendum.

What do I do?
You will need to state your name and address to the polling volunteer. After they verify your name and address, you’ll be directed to a curtained booth where you’ll be provided with a ballot and black marker to make your selections.

You will need to select one for each of the following categories:


After you cast your votes, you will need to insert your ballot into an electronic counter in order to be counted.
Then, you’re done! Head outside with pride and encourage all your friends to vote as well. Good luck and see you at the polls.