Absentee Ballot Applications Are Officially in the Mail



By Jessica VanEgeren

September 4, 2020

Anyone who wants to vote early is urged to get it, fill it out, and send it back right away.

Roughly 2.6 million registered voters in Wisconsin are in the process of receiving a voter information packet in the mail from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, including a form to request an absentee ballot.

Meagan Wolfe, the commission’s chief election officer, said in a statement the packets were mailed out this week. The packet includes an informational sheet on the three ways to vote in the Nov. 3 election: in-person on Election Day, early in-person voting at a local clerk’s office, and casting an absentee ballot by mail. Mail-in ballot interest has risen exponentially in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For those who want to vote by absentee ballot early in person or by mail, the request form in the packet must be filled out and returned to the Wisconsin Elections Commission by 5 p.m. Oct. 29. Voters can request an absentee ballot online, but the packet includes a paper absentee request form and a postage-paid return envelope for voters without internet access.

Once the commission receives the completed form, voters will be sent the absentee ballot. Absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Election Day to be counted. 

The mailing, which began arriving in homes on Wednesday, encourages voters who choose to request an absentee ballot by mail to act early and return their ballot promptly, Wolfe said.  

“The request deadline in state law is Thursday, Oct. 29, but don’t wait. It takes time for Wisconsin clerks to process your request,” Wolfe said. “Then it may take up to seven days for you to receive your ballot in the mail. It can then take another seven days for your ballot to be returned by mail.” 

More details about the three ways to vote for the November election are outlined on the packet’s informational sheet. They include: 

  • Voting at the polls from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 3. To your polling place, visit myvote.wi.gov or call 1-866-868-3947.
  • In-person early voting by absentee ballot, which involves requesting an absentee ballot, completing it, and then returning it to your local municipal clerk’s office. This can be done prior to Election Day but times vary from city to city. Visit myvote.wi.gov to find out information about your clerk’s office hours.
  • Voting by absentee ballot requires voters to first complete the absentee ballot request form and return it via mail or request an absentee ballot be sent to you by going to myvote.wi.gov. The Wisconsin Election Commision must receive your request for an absentee ballot by 5 p.m. Oct. 29. This gives the voter five days for the absentee ballot to reach them and be returned either via mail or personally delivered to their clerk’s office or local polling place by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. 

“Before the Spring Election in April, clerks were swamped with last-minute absentee ballot requests, many containing errors or missing essential information,” Wolfe said. “This mailing is designed to explain to voters all three options to vote so they have all the facts and enough time to choose the method best for them for the November 3 General Election.”

The mailing and the request form emphasize that voters who request an absentee ballot must provide a copy of their acceptable photo ID, such as a Wisconsin driver license, state ID card, passport, veteran’s ID card, military ID, student ID, or certificate of naturalization.  

For those who lack an ID, the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles assists with obtaining a free ID for voting purposes. 

“Voters who request their absentee ballot using the MyVote Wisconsin website on their smartphone or mobile device can use the built-in camera to take a picture of their photo ID and upload it,” Wolfe said.  Voters who use a computer can also upload a digital picture.

Voters who use the paper request form will need to include a copy of their photo ID, either a photocopy or a picture.  Voters who do not submit a copy of their photo ID will be notified of the error but will not be mailed a ballot until they do.  Voters who are not registered to vote or are not eligible will not receive a ballot. 

Wolfe urged voters who want to request an absentee ballot to do it as soon as possible.  “Getting your request in now and getting your absentee ballot after September 17 gives you several weeks to make your choices and return your ballot to ensure it gets counted,” she said.  “Please do not wait.”




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