Election Observers

Anyone, other than a candidate up for election, has the right to observe the conduct of the election and/or an election administration event. Observers may be present at a facility served by special voting deputies, a municipal clerk’s office during in-person absentee voting, at a polling place on Election Day, at a central counting location and at a recount.

What to Expect

A designated observation area at the polling place or other location should permit observers to hear instructions and to readily observe all public aspects of the process without disrupting the activities.

If observers are unable to hear the election inspectors and voters, they may ask for the instructions or information to be repeated.

To ensure the orderly conduct of the election and/or election administration event, or if necessary due to physical limitations of the host location, an election official may  limit the number of observers representing the same organization or candidate.

All observers shall be accorded the same respect regardless of their political affiliation or non-affiliation.

Checking In

Observers should check-in and follow directions from the election official in charge.

Location Check-in Required? Who to check in with
Facility served by special voting deputies Yes Special voting deputies
In-person absentee voting Yes Municipal clerk or their designee
Polling place during polling hours Yes Chief inspector or their designee
Central count while processing ballots Yes Municipal clerk or their designee.
Recount Canvass No N/A


Election Observer Log and Identification

An observer shall legibly list their full name, street address and municipality, and the name of the organization or candidate the observer represents, if any, on the Election Observer Log. The observer shall also sign this form acknowledging they understand the rules and will abide by them. Wis. Stat. § 7.41(1).

Additionally, an observer must present photo identification to an election inspector. If the information on the photo identification does not match the information on the observer log, the individual shall not be permitted to serve as an observer.

An observer must wear a tag or badge which reads “Election Observer,” and which shall be worn at all times while in the location.

Observer Rules-at-a-Glance Brochure

The State of Wisconsin permits individuals to observe voting and the election administration process at polling places on Election Day. The Election Observers: Rules-at-a-Glance Brochure outlines the Wisconsin Elections Commission's interpretation of statutes governing the conduct of election observers.

Candidates FAQ

View all FAQ

    Candidates file their forms with the filing officer at the level of office they are running for. Federal, Statewide, and multijurisdictional judicial candidates file their Declaration of Candidacy and Nomination Papers with Wisconsin Elections Commission. Statewide, and multijurisdictional judicial candidates file their Campaign Finance Registration Statement and Statement of Economic Interests with Wisconsin Ethics Commission. 

    Anyone can view the list of candidates running for office. For federal, statewide, and multijurisdictional judge positions, Wisconsin Elections Commission publishes and posts the Candidate Tracking by Office report ahead of the election. Voters can view exactly who will be on their ballot on the Type B notice published by the clerks on the Friday before the election. They may also view a sample ballot on MyVote.

    Note: Sample ballots will not appear in MyVote until the list of candidates has been certified and added to the election by the clerks. Voter can expect to be able to view their sample ballot up to two weeks before the election.

    The number of signatures needed to get your name added to the ballot is dependent on the level of office you are running for. Please consult the Ballot Access checklist for the office for federal, statewide, and multi-jurisdictional judicial offices. Local candidates should check with their local filing officers (county, municipal, or school district clerks).