If an absentee ballot is unfolded, that means the voter cast an absentee ballot in the clerk’s office on a piece of voting equipment known as the ES&S ExpressVote. The ExpressVote is a touch-screen ballot marking device (BMD) which prints the voter’s choices on a smaller paper ballot which does not need to be folded. ExpressVote ballots can be counted using the ES&S DS200 precinct scanner, just like regular sized paper ballots. ExpressVote BMDs are also used by people with disabilities to vote in person at polling places.

The clerk or deputy clerk is required to initial the absentee ballot before issuing it to the voter, so it is natural that many of them all have the same set of initials. More info about initials in this FAQ.

Election inspectors are not required under 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 to compare the signature to any other record.  Voters should be directed to sign using their normal signature as they would sign any other official document and election inspectors should indicate the line number on which the voter is to sign.  The law does not require voter signatures to be legible. 

If the voter refuses to sign the poll list, a ballot shall not be issued. 

However, electors who have a disability that prevents them from physically being able to sign the poll list are exempt from this provision.  If another person signed the voter’s registration form because the voter was unable to sign due to disability, the election inspector writes the word “exempt” on the signature line.  If the voter is already registered but the voter claims to be unable to sign due to physical disability, and both inspectors concur, the inspectors shall enter the words “exempt by order of inspectors” on the signature line.  If both inspectors do not waive the signature requirement, the voter shall be allowed to cast a ballot and the inspector or inspectors who did not waive the requirement shall challenge the ballot.

University and college students may use their student photo ID in conjunction with a fee payment receipt that contains the student’s residential address dated no earlier than nine months before the election.  University and college students may also use their student photo ID if the university or college has provided a certified list to the municipal clerk of students, containing the students’ residential addresses and indicating which students are U.S. citizens.

The progression is as follows:

Voter who possesses a WI driver license or WI DOT issued ID:

•    If it is current and valid (not revoked, suspended or expired)

o        Voter must provide the license number
o        If they cannot or won’t provide the number, they can register and vote provisionally

•    If driver license is revoked, suspended or expired 

o        Voter must provide the last 4 digits of their Social Security number (SS#)
o        They may also provide the number on their license or ID (optional)

Voter who does not possess a WI driver license

•    Voter must provide the last 4 digits of their SS#

o        If the voter cannot provide the last 4 digits of their SS#, they may not register or vote

Voter who possesses neither a WI driver license nor a state ID nor an SS#

•    Checks in the box indicating they have no WI driver license/state ID nor SS#

Yes. Along with meeting all the usual requirements, voters who vote by absentee ballot must follow special rules in completing and signing the certificate on the ballot envelope, and having the certificate witnessed.

If any of these rules aren't followed, election officials at the polling place must reject the absentee ballot.  These rules replace the safeguards normally present when a voter appears in person at the polling place.

If the request is made by mail by a regular voter, it must be in the office of the municipal clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Thursday preceding an election. 

If the request is a calendar year request, it can be made until 5:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election.

If the request is made in-person, the deadline is the last day that the clerk is offering in-person absentee voting.

Special provisions are made for hospitalized electors and sequestered jurors to request and vote by absentee ballot on election day.

The absentee ballot request is made to the municipal clerk in writing using the Application For Absentee Ballot (EL-121) or by letter or email to your municipal clerk requesting an absentee ballot which provides substantially the same information required on the application form.


You can find your municipal clerk on the MyVote Wisconsin website: by searching for your voter record or performing an address search.


You will need to provide a copy of your acceptable photo ID with your absentee ballot request.More information about the photo ID requirement can be found at