Enabling Qualified Homeless Individuals to Vote -- Sample Proof of Residence Letter

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Enabling Qualified Homeless Individuals to Vote

Wisconsin’s election law embodies a commitment to facilitate voting for all qualified individuals, including those who happen to be homeless at the time of the election.  The information in this memorandum is designed to facilitate participation of qualified individuals while protecting the integrity of the electoral process.  It is essential that all qualified Wisconsin electors be provided with the opportunity to help choose the elected governmental representatives who develop and implement policies that affect them. 

Any United States citizen aged 18 or older who is not otherwise disqualified may vote in Wisconsin if he or she meets the statutory residency requirements.  Qualified individuals must have lived in Wisconsin for at least 28 days.  These persons must have an identifiable location that they consider their residence for voting purposes and to which they intend to return, when absent.

Homeless individuals may designate a fixed location for their residence for voting purposes if it is an identifiable location in the state of Wisconsin which could conceivably serve as a temporary residence.  This location may be a homeless shelter, a park bench, or other location where a homeless individual may spend time or return to when absent.

A homeless individual may claim a shelter for the homeless as his or her residence for voting purposes, notwithstanding any restriction in the shelter’s rules prohibiting its use as a residence address.  “Residence” for voting purposes is distinct from other types of residence.

In order to establish that a person without a traditional residence is a qualified elector, the person must produce a form of proof of residence with his or her name and residence for voting purposes.  This proof of residence document may include a letter from a shelter for the homeless or from a private or public-social service organization providing services for homeless individuals.  The letter identifies the individual and describes the location designated as the person’s residence for voting purposes.  The proof of residence should be on letterhead and signed by a person affiliated with the social services organization.

Local election officials or persons working to facilitate voting for qualified homeless individuals may contact the Wisconsin Elections Commission Help Desk at 608-261-2028 or at [email protected] with questions.

Please note that most voters must also provide voter photo ID to receive a ballot.  For more information about voter photo ID requirements, please visit the Bring it to the Ballot website:  https://www.bringitwisconsin.com/ or contact the Wisconsin Elections Commission.