Answers to Your Voting Questions

Wisconsin will be holding its 2018 General Election on Tuesday, November 6th. The Neighborhood Housing Office has the answers to your voting questions so that you can feel confident on your way to the polls!

What is a General Election?

In a General Election, political candidates are directly elected to office. These elections happen every four years on the Tuesday during the first full week of November. What will be on your ballot depends on where you live. You can view a sample ballot online by entering your street address, city, and zip code. If you want to vote but are unfamiliar with the candidates, there are non-partisan (unbiased) organizations such as Vote411 that can help break down the issues for you.

How Do I Know If I Am Eligible to Vote?

You are eligible to vote in Wisconsin if you are a U.S. citizen, will be 18 years of age on or before Election Day, have resided in Wisconsin for at least 10 consecutive days before Election Day, and are not currently serving a felony sentence, including probation/parole. It is also required that you register to vote. You can register at the polls, but it is recommended that you register prior to Election Day to save time and avoid stress. You will need to register to vote if you have never voted before, your address has changed, or you have changed your legal name since the last time you voted. You can check your registration status online.

Where and When Do I Vote?

You can find your polling place online. If you want to vote in your Wisconsin hometown rather than in Milwaukee, you may request an absentee ballot for your ward. You can only vote once, so you should choose where you want to vote wisely. On Election Day, polls will be open from 7am-8pm in Wisconsin. In general, lines are usually longest before and after work and during lunch hours, so plan how much time you need to stand in line, get your ballot, vote, and leave. If you have to work on Election Day, your employer must grant you up to three successive hours to vote while the polls are open. You should notify your employer of your intended absence ahead of time.

What Should I Bring to the Polls?

You should bring a valid form of voter ID to your polling place. Be advised that some forms of ID are not accepted. Students at the main campus can get a free UW-Milwaukee voter ID card at Panther Card Services. Students at the Washington County campus can get a free voter ID card at the Student Affairs/Solution Center. Students at the Waukesha campus can get a free voter ID card at the campus library. At your polling place, you must also present a Proof of Enrollment letter, which can be printed from the “Academics” section of your PAWS account. If you are not already registered to vote, you should bring some form of proof of residency to the polls in addition to your ID.

What Should I Expect at the Polls?

If you want to know what kind of ballot machine your polling place will be using or have other questions, you can find that information online ahead of time. When you arrive at your polling place, there will be poll workers ready to help you. If you are not registered, they will help you register. If you are already registered, they will ask for photo identification and then give you your ballot. If you make a mistake on your ballot, you can ask for a new one. If you have difficulty reading or are unable to operate the voting machine, a poll worker can help you or you can bring someone with you to the polls. The person helping you must give their name and address to a poll worker and must sign the back of your ballot. Curbside voting is also available for voters who cannot easily leave their vehicles.

I Voted, Now What?

Once you have filled out your ballot, you can give it to the appropriate poll worker. Although you may be tempted to take a picture with your ballot, at least 19 states, including Wisconsin, ban this practice. Take a picture with your “I Voted” sticker instead! The results of the election will most likely be announced the evening of the election after the votes have been counted throughout the state.

For more tools and strategies for understanding what it means to be a good neighbor and community member, stop by the Neighborhood Housing Office in Union WG85!

Article Written by Natalie Kugler