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Late Forms Mean Voters Must Register at the Polling Place

February 17, 2008

National Group Again Mails Forms to State After Registration Deadline

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Elections Division has received hundreds of voter registration forms mailed after the January 30 deadline for the February 19 primary election. By law late forms cannot be processed to place voters’ names in the poll books.

One group in particular – Women’s Voices. Women Vote, of Washington, D.C. – apparently ignored or disregarded state deadlines in seeking to register voters just before the Presidential Preference Primary Election on Tuesday. This group mailed a large number of registrations to Wisconsin well after the state’s registration deadline.

“It’s unfortunate that such groups do not inform voters of our deadlines,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board. “Voters have the expectation that they will be properly registered when they fill out a form. This action misleads them, and causes extra challenges for poll workers in Wisconsin on Tuesday.”

Elections Division Administrator Nat Robinson advised that voters whose mail-in registrations are late will have to register again in order to vote on Tuesday.

“For Wisconsinites who intended to register by mail, the form had to have been postmarked twenty days before the election,” Robinson said. “Otherwise they must register in the clerk’s office or at the polling place on Election Day.”

“We have received a large number of registrations that will not be in the state database by Tuesday morning,” Robinson added. “Fortunately, those people who arrive at their polling places assuming they are already registered can still register just before voting.”

Wisconsin provides three ways for residents to register: Mail-in registration, in-person registration, and Election Day registration. While mail-in registration allows voters not to carry documents to the polling place or clerk’s office, it is subject to the 20-day deadline.

To register at the polling place, Wisconsin residents must provide a current document which proves residency (such as a utility bill, paycheck or student ID), and their driver’s license number. Those without a driver’s license number can use their state identification card number or last four digits of their Social Security number.