What Voters in Residential Care Facilities Need to Know
SVD Voting is when special voting deputies (SVDs) come from the municipal clerk's office to a residential care facility to allow residents the opportunity to vote. Not all facilities are eligible for SVD voting so you may want to check with your municipal clerk to find out if yours is served by SVDs. SVDs only assist those residents who request assistance from them.
The SVDs will make two visits to your care facility so if you miss the first visit, you will have another opportunity to vote. If you miss both visits, the municipal clerk can mail your absentee ballot to the facility for you. Please contact your municipal clerk if you miss both SVD visits to ensure you still receive your ballot.
You may decline to vote when the SVDs visit. They have a form they will ask you to sign for their official records confirming you did not want to vote.
You must be registered in order to vote absentee when the SVDs visit the facility*.
To register, you need a proof of residence document such as your care facility intake form, a residential lease, or check or document issued by a unit of government. These documents must contain your current name and current address.
You should only register to vote from the care facility if you are not there temporarily and have no present intent to return to your previous home
You can register to vote the following ways:
On MyVote Wisconsin if you have a current and valid driver license or state ID
On paper using the voter registration form (EL-131 link) and mailing it or having it delivered to the municipal clerk's office
*In some instances, the clerk may send/authorize an Election Registration Official (ERO) to register residents. If you know you need to register and would like assistance from the clerk's office, call your municipal clerk and see if they are planning to send an ERO with their SVDs.
If you need assistance getting registered, someone from the care facility, a family member, or friends (anyone except your employer or union rep) may act as your assistant and will need to sign in Section 10 on the registration form
Requesting a Ballot
In order for a care facility to qualify for a SVDs visit, there need to be at least 5 registered voters with active absentee ballot requests on file.
You may also request your absentee ballot one of the following ways:
By email, using the MyVote Wisconsin website, if you have a photo ID, e.g., a WI driver license or state ID, US passport, etc.
Using an absentee ballot request form (EL-121 link) or other written request to the clerk and submitting it to the clerk's office by mail, fax or email.
If your facility is already served by SVDs, you can request your ballot when they visit if you are already registered or if you are not, if it is during the open registration period and they sent an Election Registration Official (see above).
If you need assistance requesting your ballot, someone from the care facility, a family member, or friend may act as your assistant and will need to sign the Assistant Declaration/Certification section on the application form.
Photo ID Requirements and Exceptions
Most voters are required to provide an acceptable photo ID to request a ballot.
Many care facility residents qualify for exceptions:
If you are requesting your ballot from the SVDs when they visit, the signatures of the SVDs on the ballot envelope serves as the proof of identification.
If your care facility is not served by SVDs, a signature from care facility staff in section 5 on the ballot envelope serves as the proof of identification. You will need to let the clerk's office know your situation when you send in your application.
If you consider yourself to be indefinitely confined under Wis. Stat. 6.86(2), meaning you are limited in your ability to leave the care facility due age, infirmity, disability or illness, you can check that box in Section 6 on the ballot application.
If you are registered to vote from the care facility (meaning you used the care facility address as your residence) AND that care facility is served by SVDs, your absentee ballot will be delivered by the SVD's or mailed to your mailing address if you are unable to vote during either SVD visit. Your family member is welcome to be in attendance when the SVDs visit and act as your assistant.
Rather than vote with the SVDs, you could vote at the polls on election day or vote absentee in-person at your municipal clerk's office or alternate site.
Alternatively, if you maintain a home outside of the care facility, you would be able to register to vote from that address and could apply to receive an absentee ballot with that registration.
If your Power of Attorney is a family member, they may assist you with registering to vote and voting your ballot* but they may not do those things on your behalf without your presence (Wis. Stat. 6.875(6)(c)1). Your Power of Attorney may request your absentee ballot on your behalf.
*If you are in a care facility served by SVDs, they will need to be in attendance during one of those visits in order to assist you.