Absentee Ballots

Military and Overseas info can be found here: Military, Overseas and Absentee Ballots

Uniform Instructions to be Sent with Absentee Ballots .

The uniform instructions for absentee voting for Military, Overseas and Regular voters have been consolidated into a single document.  There is now one uniform instructions document for all voter types. The instructions were updated on September 16, 2016 to include a reminder to the voter to return the entire ballot.

Email/Fax Absentee Ballot Instructions for Clerks
Information and instructions for emailing and faxing absentee ballots to voters.


Any qualified elector.  A qualified elector is a United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, who has resided in the district in which he or she intends to vote for at least 10 consecutive days.  The elector must be registered in order to receive an absentee ballot.

Note: Military voters are not required to register (submit a EL-131) in order to vote.


The request is made to the municipal clerk in writing or electronically using the Application for Absentee Ballot (EL-121), or a letter requesting an absentee ballot which provides the information required on the application form. 

Military and Overseas electors may also use the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA), which is a combination registration form and absentee ballot request. 


  • By mail: The request must be in the office of the municipal clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on the *5th day preceding an election. 
  • In person at the clerk's office: The last possible day for a clerk to conduct in-person absentee voting is the Sunday before the election.  Each  municipal clerk's office sets its own schedule for in-person absentee voting.
    • Note: A person cannot request an absentee ballot in person and leave the clerk's office with the ballot. The ballot is either voted in the clerk's office, or the clerk must mail the ballot to the elector.
    • *The deadline for indefinitely confined electors and military electors (not-away) to request an absentee ballot is the 4th day before the election.
    • *For a federal election, the deadline for military electors who are away from their residence due to active duty to request an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. on election day.
    • *Special provisions are made for hospitalized electors and sequestered jurors to request and vote by absentee ballot on election day.  Wis. Stat. §§ 6.86(1)(b),(3)(a)


  An absentee ballot must be sent by the following dates to any voter with an absentee application on file.

  • 47 days before a federal election
  • 21 days before a primary or other election.  Wis. Stat. § 7.15(1))(cm).
  • When a request for absentee ballot is made by mail, the absentee ballot must be mailed to the elector within one day of the request.

Voters requesting an absentee ballot in person must cast the ballot in the clerk's office.  Voters cannot take the absentee ballot out of the clerk's office.

Special provisions are made for issuing absentee ballots to residents of a nursing home, qualifying retirement homes and community-based residential facilities. See our manual Absentee Voting in Residential Care Facilities and Retirement Homes.


  • Document on an absentee voting log: the date of receipt of the application, the name and address of the person making the request, the date the absentee ballot was sent to the elector, and any other pertinent information.
  • Initial the ballot at the "Absentee ballot issued by" line in the endorsement section.
  • Place absentee voting instructions, an Absentee Certificate envelope, and the absentee ballot inside a mailing envelope addressed to the requesting elector.  The elector returns the voted absentee ballot to the clerk's office in the Absentee Certificate envelope that is postage pre-paid when mailed within the United States.
  • When the voted absentee ballot is received by the clerk, enter the date of receipt on the absentee voting log.

  • Check the Absentee Certificate envelope to be sure that the voter has properly completed and signed the certificate and that it has been properly witnessed.  If not, and time permits, make an effort to contact the elector and make arrangements for correcting the problem, whenever possible.

  • The Absentee Certificate envelope containing the elector's voted ballot should be placed in a carrier envelope and kept in a secure place in the clerk's office until election day.  On election day, the clerk delivers the carrier envelope containing all absentee ballots received to the proper polling place before the polls close at 8:00 p.m.  This also includes any absentee ballots received by the clerk on election day.

  • Any voter may request absentee ballots for all elections in a calendar year.
  • Military voters are entitled to vote for all offices.  Wis. Stat. § 6.22.
  • Permanent Overseas voters are United States citizens who have chosen to reside overseas with no present intent to return.  Permanent Overseas voters are entitled to vote for federal offices only.  Wis. Stat. § 6.24.