Wisconsin Elections and Coronavirus COVID-19

Wisconsin election officials understand everyone has pressing and important concerns regarding COVID-19.  We share your mission and sense of urgency in ensuring each of Wisconsin’s voters has access to exercise their right to vote without jeopardizing their health. 

This page contains clerk communications, news releases, videos and other important information for election officials and voters about this public health emergency.

For information about what the State of Wisconsin is doing in response to the pandemic, visit the state's official COVID-19 website: https://www.wisconsin.gov/covid19. (Note, this link may redirect to a .com website, but it is a safe link.)

Face Coverings on Election Day

Face coverings are highly recommended and encouraged to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have secured enough coverings for all poll workers for the upcoming 2020 elections. If you want to provide masks to voters, municipalities must obtain additional coverings. We’ve included signage which you can see attached below.

Can voters be required to wear a face coverings at their polling place?

No, face coverings can be strongly encouraged but not required. Election officials should not add additional requirements not provided by state or federal law that impacts the civil and constitutional rights of voters. We also do not believe that county and/or municipal health orders supersede voting rights or can add additional qualifications to vote.

Please read more about face coverings in our FAQ document here: https://elections.wi.gov/node/6981.

Absentee Ballot Management

Official Absentee Ballot Application/Certification (EL-122)

Combination Absentee Ballot Application/Certification. Serves as an absentee ballot application and an absentee ballot certificate. Voters are not required to complete a separate absentee ballot application.

Uniform Absentee Ballot Instructions

Consolidated Uniform Absentee Voting Instructions for Military, Overseas and Regular Voters. Please note that the military and overseas instructions also apply to voters who were mailed their ballot and are returning it by mail. These instructions are intended for clerks to be mailed with absentee ballots.

Drop Boxes

Clerks may also utilize drop boxes around their municipality for voters to drop their ballot off. Many municipalities choose to use library or existing municipal drop boxes. Please note that all drop boxes must have clear signage that indicate their pick up times and there should be a plan in place to collect ballots prior to 8pm on election night. All drop boxes should be secure.

In-Person Absentee Voting

Many municipalities may select alternative locations other than the clerk’s office to conduct in-person absentee voting. Those locations must be established by the municipal governing body at least 14 days prior to the time that absentee ballots are available for the election. These must be listed in your Type E notice as well.

Inbound and Outbound Absentee Ballot Considerations

With COVID-19, voting by mail has increased drastically in 2020, and with it, a unique set of challenges. Clerks found many creative solutions to these new challenges and have adapted to unprecedented times. This document will cover some best practices as learned from local clerks and the National Association for State Election Directors (NASED). 

Absentee Ballot Witnesses

Insufficient Witness Information

Clerks must take corrective actions to remedy a witness address error. If clerks are able to discern any missing information for outside sources, clerks are not required to contact the voter before making that correction directly to the absentee certificate envelope. 

Obtaining a Witness

All absentee voters must obtain a witness signature on the absentee certificate envelope. A witness must be a U.S. Citizen who is 18 years or older, but it could be a neighbor, spouse, or family member of the voter. If a voter is struggling to get a witness, we suggest that the voter asks a family member, friend, or neighbor to witness their ballot through a window, from a distance, or on video chat (as long as they’re able to sign it later). A voter can also ask a store clerk, a mail carrier, or even someone at a drive-through.

Moving a Polling Place

Establishing a New Polling Place Checklist

This page provides guidance on step-by-step instructions of changing a polling place, including important accessibility requirements. If the polling place requires additional accessibility supplies, such as signage, cones, or doorbells, to maintain accessibility requirements, please fill out the supply order form on the page and email it to [email protected].

Election Day Accessibility Checklist

Relocated polling places must still pass guidelines outlined in the Election Day Accessibility Checklist for new polling places. The document covers severe accessibility issues from the full-length accessibility survey, that may prevent a voter from voting at their designated polling place. 

Sample News Release for Municipal Clerks Moving Polling Places due to COVID-19

This is a sample news release that municipal clerks can use to inform the media and public about changes in polling places.

Polling Place Sanitizing Procedures

Badger Book Cleaning Practices

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, WEC staff compiled a list of suggested best practices for cleaning and sanitizing your Badger Books.

Voting Equipment Cleaning Best Practices by Vendors

Equipment cleaning practices are outlined by Clear Ballot, Dominion Voting, and Election Systems and Software (ES&S).

Sanitizing Supplies

The WEC ordered disinfecting solution, sanitizing wipes/paper towels, masks, and additional pens for municipalities to use. We are continuing to monitor and identify critical shortages that any municipalities may have. Please contact [email protected] with any urgent polling place concerns or shortages.

Special Voting Deputies and Quarantined Electors

The Wisconsin Elections Commission directed that municipal clerks shall not send Special Voting Deputies (SVDs) into care facilities for the remaining elections in 2020. The Commission directed that local election officials shall instead mail an absentee ballot to those registered voters who reside in care facilities that are typically served by SVDs if they request an absentee ballot or have an active request on file. You can read more information here: https://elections.wi.gov/node/6939.

Many facilities may still be restricting guests, so the WEC did outreach to care facilities with training resources and documents that may care facilities conduct absentee voting. You can view these documents here: https://elections.wi.gov/node/6957.

The hospitalized elector process includes voters who are under quarantine for exposure to COVID-19. Voters may assign an agent to carry materials between the voter and the clerk's office. These guidelines are available under Wis. Stat. § 6.86(3). Please read more about the process in the document attached below.

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Hospitalized Electors.pdf 205.96 KB

General Poll Worker Training

These trainings are for any election inspector and contain general information. All are available online.

COVID-19 Specific Poll Worker Training

These trainings are designed for both clerks and election inspectors. They are all available online, and specifically discuss COVID-related election training.

Curbside or Drive-Through Voting

Drive-through voting and curbside voting are two separate election processes. Drive-through voting is OPTIONAL and is a great option for municipalities looking to limit indoor foot traffic. You can also move your polling place outside for additional space. Curbside voting is STATUTORILY REQUIRED.

Drive-through and Outdoor Voting

  • Any voter can participate.
  • All voters must sign the poll book.
  • There must still be an accessible voting machine available for voters.

Curbside Voting

  • Reserved for voters with disabilities and individuals who are immunocompromised or who have active COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Curbside voters do not sign the poll book and instead a poll worker writes “Exempt” in the signature box.
  • You should have a procedure in place for voters to tell you they need curbside voting.
  • We recommend having signs or a greeter located outside. We have free signs for curbside voting here: https://elections.wi.gov/clerks/guidance/accessibility/new-polling-place.

Please read more about these procedures below.

Recruiting Poll Workers

Sample News Release for Poll Worker Recruitment

This document is a sample news release that clerks are encouraged to use to put out the call for election inspectors. Please feel free to customize it with your own name, your mayor, village president or town board chair's name, or whoever you think would be helpful in a public call to action.

Poll Worker Promotion on MyVote.Wi.Gov

Wisconsin is looking for citizens to serve as poll workers for the April 7, 2020 election. This promotion outlines the qualifications and the process of becoming a poll worker.

Election Worker and Volunteer Position Information

Looking to help out at the polls on Election Day? If so, there are several different ways you can assist your community in running the election. This document reviews the position descriptions and requirements for Polling Place Helper, Election Inspector, Chief Election Inspector, Greeter, and Election Registration Official.

COVID-19 Contingency Planning and Emergency Preparedness Webinar (EA)

Date

Press Play button on the video screen to view video.

Associated materials  

 
 
Webinar Downloading Instructions             
 

1. Click on Vimeo link above which will take you to the Vimeo website.

2. Click the "Download" button that appears below the video.

3. Choose either a Standard (SD) or High Definition (HD) file and click the Download button.

4. Another little menu will pop up. If you're a Windows user, select the Save button and save the file to your desktop or somewhere else on your computer where you store saved files. 

COVID-19 Clerk Communications

Title Last Updated
Elections and Coronavirus COVID-19 Webinar ★ September 1, 2020 - 4:30pm
Partisan Primary Election Updates Q&A Sessions Tuesday Aug. 4: 7th Circuit Court Ruling and COVID-19 Webinar ★ September 1, 2020 - 4:27pm
Poll Worker Recruitment Information - COVID-19 September 1, 2020 - 11:51am
Sample News Release for Poll Worker Recruitment - COVID-19 September 1, 2020 - 11:09am
Public Health Procedures for In-Person Absentee Voting - COVID-19 August 25, 2020 - 9:39am
Critical Cleaning Supplies/Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for November - COVID-19 August 19, 2020 - 3:23pm
Face Coverings While Voting and Conducting Elections - COVID-19 August 10, 2020 - 3:40pm
Election Day & COVID-19: Poll Worker Procedures (EA) August 4, 2020 - 12:04pm
Sample News Release for Municipal Clerks Moving Polling Places Due to COVID-19 July 31, 2020 - 4:16pm
Top 5 Accessibility Considerations with COVID-19 July 31, 2020 - 2:58pm
Update – Critical Cleaning Supplies and Poll Workers – COVID-19  July 29, 2020 - 7:16pm
Elections and Coronavirus COVID-19 (EA) July 23, 2020 - 9:46am
Poll Worker Survey and Update on Critical Cleaning & Sanitation Supplies - COVID-19 July 22, 2020 - 11:46am
No Special Voting Deputies for the August 11, 2020 and November 3, 2020 Elections - COVID-19 June 24, 2020 - 5:35pm
Update on Commission Actions 5/27- COVID-19 May 28, 2020 - 8:41am
WEC Extended Hours and Election Supplies in Support of the Congressional District 7 Special Election on May 12, 2020 - COVID-19 May 6, 2020 - 10:42am
Election Day Procedures for 7th Congressional District Webinar- Q & A Session - COVID-19 May 1, 2020 - 4:59pm
Sample News Release for CD7 County and Municipal Clerks Encouraging Absentee Voting Due to COVID-19 April 23, 2020 - 2:08pm
FAQ: Absentee Envelope Issues and Options COVID-19 April 22, 2020 - 9:35am
Circulation of Nomination Papers – 2020 General Election - COVID-19 April 13, 2020 - 5:06pm
UPDATED - Postmark Issues and Processing Absentee Ballots - COVID-19 April 13, 2020 - 3:34pm
WEC Extended Hours Today: Open until 7:00 PM on April 13, 2020 - COVID-19 April 13, 2020 - 9:46am
Procedures for April 13, 2020 and Municipal Canvass of Election Results - COVID-19 April 10, 2020 - 2:01pm
Municipal Canvass and Central Count Canvass Meeting Notice Template - COVID-19 Updated April 10, 2020 - 9:28am
Updated Guidance on Election Night Procedures - COVID-19 April 9, 2020 - 3:28pm
Absentee Ballot Postmark Considerations - COVID-19 April 8, 2020 - 3:34pm
Updated Absentee Witness Signature Requirement Guidance - COVID-19 April 7, 2020 - 6:31pm
URGENT -- Wisconsin Supreme Court Orders Election Day to Continue and U.S. Supreme Court Alters Ballot Receipt Deadline; Tallying and Reporting Results Still Prohibited Until April 13 - COVID-19 April 7, 2020 - 2:49pm
Gov. Evers Order - COVID-19 April 7, 2020 - 9:32am
Webinar for County and Municipal Clerks: Federal Court Decision Updates - COVID-19 April 7, 2020 - 9:04am
Updates to Federal Court Order Affecting Spring Election – Witness Signature Required; No Release of Results Until April 13th at 4:00 p.m. - COVID-19 April 3, 2020 - 10:30pm
Federal Court Order Affects Spring Election – Absentee Ballot Request and Receipt Deadlines Extended COVID-19 April 3, 2020 - 8:20pm
Election Day Supplies - COVID 19 April 3, 2020 - 5:07pm
Polling Place Procedures (COVID-19) Video - (EA) April 2, 2020 - 10:36am
Election Day Procedures Q & A Sessions COVID-19 April 1, 2020 - 4:20pm
Absentee Witness Signature Requirement Guidance COVID-19 April 1, 2020 - 2:29pm
Voting Equipment Cleaning Best Practices for COVID-19 April 1, 2020 - 12:20pm
Consolidating Polling Places and Use of WisVote - COVID-19 March 31, 2020 - 3:15pm
Absentee Ballot Return Options - COVID-19 March 31, 2020 - 12:58pm
Absentee Ballot Processing - COVID-19 March 31, 2020 - 12:27pm
Public Health Guidance for Elections - COVID-19 March 31, 2020 - 11:13am
COVID-19 Contingency Planning and Emergency Preparedness Webinar (EA) March 31, 2020 - 10:06am
Election Official Training Resources COVID-19 March 29, 2020 - 2:19pm
Guidance for Indefinitely Confined Electors COVID-19 March 29, 2020 - 2:00pm
Emergency Order #12 Does Not Eliminate In-Person Absentee Voting - COVID-19 March 24, 2020 - 7:16pm
COVID-19 FAQs and Updates:  Online Voter Registration, Absentee Voting, Envelopes, Sanitizer and Poll Worker Recruitment March 24, 2020 - 5:14pm
FAQ: Hand Sanitizer Issues and Options for COVID-19 March 22, 2020 - 12:43pm
URGENT – Federal Court Decision Orders Continuation of Online Registration Through March 30, 2020 - COVID-19 March 21, 2020 - 11:10am
Poll Workers – Information Needed - COVID-19 March 20, 2020 - 3:57pm
Critical Cleaning & Sanitation Supplies – Information Needed COVID-19 March 20, 2020 - 3:46pm
Absentee Envelope Order Status and Delivery Details COVID-19 March 20, 2020 - 12:23pm
Social Media and Website Resources about Absentee Voting during COVID-19 Pandemic  March 17, 2020 - 4:19pm
COVID-19 Contingency Planning and Emergency Preparedness webinar March 16, 2020 - 4:17pm
UPDATED: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and Guidance on Procedural Changes for Care Facility Absentee Voting and Polling Place Relocation March 16, 2020 - 2:59pm
COVID-19 Contingency Planning Webinar Added March 16, 2020 - 1:28pm
Webinar Handout: Contingency Planning and Emergency Preparedness: Responding to COVID-19 March 16, 2020 - 1:22pm
Supplemental FAQ on Absentee Voting and COVID-19 - UPDATED March 16, 2020 - 1:16pm
Important Recommendations for Prevention of COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities March 16, 2020 - 11:52am
Guidance Regarding Election Procedures and COVID-19 Public Health Emergency March 14, 2020 - 10:25pm