With COVID-19 numbers peaking in Wisconsin, the possibility of catching the virus while at the polling station on election day should be taken seriously. That is why the city has invested in alternative voting methods that will help prevent a large influx of cases on November 3rd. One of those methods is the absentee ballot.

Recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the absentee ballot is the safest way for citizens to vote this election season; however, it is also the most risky. In Milwaukee’s April primary, 23,000 absentee ballots were rejected due to an improper completion of the ballot.

We are still more than 3 weeks away from the November election and Milwaukee has already had 221,316 absentee ballots requested. Around this time in the spring primary, Milwaukee only had 155,298 requested ballots. That means that 66,018 more voters have chosen to vote absentee this election. This article will help explain the process of requesting an absentee and how to ensure your ballot does not get rejected.

To apply for a ballot go to the My Vote Wisconsin website and type in your name and date of birth. If you have already registered to vote, you should be able to click the button “Request Absentee Ballot.” If your name does not pop up in the database, then the election commission does not have you registered as an active voter in the state of Wisconsin. If you need guidance on how to register please read our previous article on how to register to vote.

After a few questions are asked pertaining to where you want the ballot sent, the commission will request you to upload a picture of an acceptable photo ID. This can be a Wisconsin driver license, Wisconsin state ID card, Military ID card, Veteran’s ID card, US Passport, a certificate of naturalization, an identification card from a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Wisconsin, a drivers license receipt from Wisconsin DOT, a photo identification card issued by a Wisconsin accredited university or college, or technical that contains the date the card was issued, signature of the student, expiration date no later than two years after issuance, and accompanied by a separate document that proves enrollment like a tuition fee receipt, re-enrollment verification letter, or class schedule. For more guidance on acceptable photo IDs please click here.

Thereafter a couple more questions will be asked and the application for an absentee ballot will be complete. The ballot will take about one week to be mailed to you. If it has been more than 10 days call (414) 286-3491.Remember that this request must be completed and sent over to your municipal clerk by 5:00 pm on October 28th, otherwise you will not receive a ballot in time.

The toughest step of this process is completing and returning the absentee ballot back to the election commission. When filling it out make sure to use a black pen. Then refold the ballot and place it into the special ballot envelope. Sign and date the envelope and then have a witness sign and write their address on the envelope as well. This step is one of the main reasons why so many absentee ballots were turned away in the April primary so it is crucial to have your witness fill out their information properly.

The ballot must be returned to any one of the locations found on the Milwaukee Election Commision website before 8 pm on November 3rd. This list includes 15 ballot drop off boxes that are open 24/7 and are picked up directly by the election commission, ensuring their timely arrival. It is important to note that absentee ballots cannot be turned in at polling stations.

To check the progress of your absentee ballot, go to the My Vote Wisconsin website under “My Voter Info.” If your ballot is rejected, request a replacement by calling ‭(414) 286-3491 or vote in-person at early voting or on election day.

If you would like to view a sample ballot click here.

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