In a few weeks, Americans will be going to the polls to vote for a president and legislators. The Hodag Buyers’ Guide decided to interview Mary Bartelt, Oneida County Clerk, to find out if there are any new procedures that voters should be aware of when they go to the polls on Nov. 6.
Hodag Buyers’ Guide:
“What should new voters be aware of if they are going to the polls for the very first time in this election?”
New voters should first contact their municipal clerk, or if they live in the City of Rhinelander, the city clerk, and have them send out a voter registration form. That will really make things easier on the day of the election. They have to fill out the form and then provide proof they live in the county. Then they will be on the books when they go to vote.
HBG: What kind of paperwork is needed to verify that you are a county resident?
MB: A current and valid driver’s license will work. So will a state ID card. There are also other forms people can present to verify their residency, including: any official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body such as a hunting or fishing license; an employee ID card with a photograph, but not a business card; a real property tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election; a residential lease; a picture ID from a university, college or technical college coupled with a fee receipt; a picture ID from a university, college or technical college coupled with an on-campus housing listing provided by the university, college or technical college to the municipality that denotes U.S. citizenship; a utility bill for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before the day registration is made; homeless voters require a letter from an organization that provides services to the homeless that identifies the voter and describes the location designated as the person’s residence for voting purposes; a bank statement; a paycheck; or a check or other document issued by a unit of government.
HBG: What if they don’t fill out a form beforehand?
MB: Then they will have to fill one out when they go to the polls. I am suspecting that because this will be a very busy election, most voting stations will have an extra person to help people with this task. They will also need to bring in a form of residency proof listed above.
HBG: What about absentee voting?
MB: We have what is called in-house absentee voting that will start on Oct. 22. (It closes on Nov. 2.) Each municipality will hold hours where people can come in and vote early. This works out for people that won’t be around on Election Day. Some of these folks are on vacation, maybe they are over-the-road truck drivers or maybe they are students. Each municipality is different as far as when they will be holding hours for in-house absentee voting. For the people living within the city limits, they can call (715) 365-8600, and for those that live in outlying areas they will have to find out who their clerk is and call them. If people need help determining who they should call, they can call the county clerk’s office at (715) 369-6287 or visit our website at www.co.oneida.wi.gov.
HBG: If a person voted in the last presidential election, will they automatically be in the poll books?
MB: Not necessarily. If a person voted in the last presidential election, but hasn’t voted since, then they will have to re-register. The Government Accountability Board has a new law and now they purge everyone from the polling books if they haven’t voted in the last three years. So if a resident hasn’t voted since 2008, they will have to re-register. If people have questions about this, they can call their municipal or town clerk.
HBG: What if a person has moved recently?
MB: If a person has not lived at their current location for 28 days before the election, then they must vote in the municipality where they have moved from. If you voted at that spot within the last three years, you will still be on the poll books there and don’t have to re-register. You will have to re-register if you have moved to a new municipality and haven’t voted from there.
HBG: What advice do you have for voters who are going to the polls on Nov. 6?
MB: I would say have a little patience because I think the polling places will be really busy for this election. If you don’t want to deal with the crowds, then make arrangements to vote early.