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pdf of this page

Tips to register UW-Madison students

Help register voters in Dane County

Brief Guide for SRD + electronic POR - FEW home page

Check your voter registration and polling place at MyVote.WI

Registration form dated 2016-09

FAQ on Proof of Residence - GAB

Detailed list of Proof of Residence - EP

Become a Madison SRD

Contact a municipal clerk to become an SRD

Madison 2014 SRD training video

Enabling Homeless to Vote

Statutes on registration: subch. II of ch. 6

Registration Modernization

Residency Opinions:

GAB 2011 web page on Residency

GAB opinion on residency 2008

Opinion of the AG 1971 Residence -Absentee

Opinion of the AG 1972 Residence - Youth

Opinion of the AG 1972 Residence - Military


For info on this page, contact Paul Malischke malischke@yahoo.com

This page is in the process of being updated.  Special Registration Deputies have been eliminated.  See 2015 Act 261.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Detailed Guide for Wisconsin Special Registration Deputies

What's new?
As of April 2014, anyone wishing to register with an SRD must display a paper or electronic proof of residence (POR) document to the SRD.  This information is from a GAB memo dated April 11, 2014.  http://gab.wi.gov/node/3151

The SRD must list in section 11 of the registration form:

  • The type of POR (e.g. utility bill)

  • The entity issuing it (e.g. MG&E)

  • A specific portion of the account number, if there is one.

If the account number has more than six digits, record the last four digits.
If the account number has six or fewer digits, record the last two digits.
If the document has no account number (such as a residential lease), no number is needed (writing n/a is appropriate).

SRD’s are not required to retain the POR document.

What are acceptable POR documents?
Valid forms of proof of residence must include the voter’s name and current address, and are any of the following:
Electronic proof of residence is acceptable.)  Statute 6.34
 "Proof of residence required"

  1. Any document issued by a government agency.  Units of government include city, town or village clerk or treasurer’s office, county clerk or treasurer, public high school, technical college, public university, UW Hospital, and all local, state, or federal government agencies.*
  2. A current and valid Wisconsin driver license or identification card.
  3. Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit.
  4. Any identification card issued by an employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the cardholder, but not including a business card.
  5. A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
  6. A university, college, or technical college identification card (must include photo) ONLY if the voter provides a fee receipt dated within the last 9 months or the institution provides a certified housing list to the municipal clerk.
  7. A gas, electric, or telephone service statement (utility bill) for the period commencing no earlier than 90 days before registration.
  8. Bank statement.
  9. Paycheck.
  10. An affidavit on public or private social service agency letterhead identifying a homeless voter and describing the individual’s residence for voting purposes.
  11. Residential lease that is effective on date of registration (not valid if registering by mail or through a non-SRD voter registration drive).
  12. An intake document from a residential care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility (added by 2015 Act 261).

*State units of government include Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV or DOT), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Department of Human Services, and many others.  Federal units of government include Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Medicare (not second party vendors), Social Security, and many others.  Documents from governments from other states are acceptable.

Is POR the same as photo ID?
No, although some documents could be used for both if they show the voter's current address.  Examples are a Wisconsin driver license, or a tribal ID card.  Photo ID is needed to get a ballot on Election Day or if voting by absentee.

What is the simplest way for UW students to prove residency?
UW is a government institution, so any document (paper or electronic) issued by UW that has the voter's name and address is acceptable proof of residence.  For UW-Madison, the easiest is using their Student Center (under MyUW) or at
go.wisc.edu/verify See this one-page document on tips for registering UW-Madison students.

On the UW document that is mentioned above, there is no account number or student number.  Therefore, no POR number is needed.  Statute 6.36(1)(a)(12).

For government documents no additional item is needed. This includes public high schools and public technical schools such as Madison College.  See Electronic Proof of Residence for other examples of government documents.

What is available to students of private colleges?
All students may use any of the forms of POR.  A POR especially for students is the school ID card that shows photo, name and address; along with a fee payment receipt dated within the last 9 months.  If the ID card does not include the address, this method may not be used.  Statute 6.34(3)(a)7.b.
(Note: These requirements are different than the student photo ID requirements to get a ballot.  Those are in statute 5.02(6m)(f)).

Is UW Hospital and Clinics a government Agency?
Yes, documents issued by UWHC are government documents, per an email from Diane Lowe of the GAB.  UWHC is governed by statute 233.  However, the UW Medical Foundation and Unity Health are not government agencies.  Wisconsin Election Protection has a two page pdf document of POR examples.

Is there a time limit on how old a proof of residence document can be?  For many types of proof of residence, there is no limit on how old the document can be.  Here are the time limits to keep in mind when checking proof of residence:

  •    If there is an expiration date on the document, the document cannot be expired.  For example, a voter cannot use an expired bartender license, expired driver license, expired ID, or expired fishing license to prove where they live.

  •    If the document is a utility bill, it cannot be a bill for more than 90 days ago.

  •    If the document is a residential lease, it must be in effect on the day of the election.

  •    If the document is a tax bill, it must be from the current year or from the previous year.

  •    If the document is a private college fee receipt (accompanied by student ID), the fee receipt must be from the past nine months.


Driver License Number Questions

If the applicant has a current and valid Wisconsin driver license or DOT ID card, must the number be put on the registration form?
Yes, per the federal Help America Vote Act and Wisconsin administrative rule EL 3.02.  If the applicant does not have a current and valid Wisconsin driver license (DL) or DOT ID card, the voter provides the last four digits of their Social Security number (SSN).

An exception is for Election Day registration.  If the voter cannot provide their license number, they can register and get a provisional ballot.  Rule EL 3.04(2)

Does the applicant have to show the driver license?
No, unless they are also using it as proof of residence.  However, they should fill out their name exactly as it is on the license.  The databases are cross-checked, and if there is no match, there is follow-up needed by the clerk with the applicant.  (The Madison clerk prefers that the voter include the entire middle name.)

What if someone registering to vote has an out-of-state driver license?
The individual should use the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.

An applicant lost his Wisconsin driver license, does not remember the number, and has not had a chance to get a new one. What do they do?
According to the law, they cannot register without the driver license number.  They can call the DOT driver license information during working hours at 608-266-2353, press 1, 4, 4, and 1.  The DOT will need Social Security number and date of birth.  (If they are trying to register on Election Day, they can be given a provisional ballot, which gives them until Friday after the election to provide the missing information.)

Should the applicant list their WI driver license number if it has expired, been revoked, or suspended?
Since their license is not “current and valid”, this number is not required.  They must list the last four digits of their Social Security number.  Rule EL 3.04 (1).

However, the instructions on the back of the registration form direct voters in this situation to list both the DL number and the last four digits of their Social Security number. The GAB asks for this because it is the best way for them to meet the federal requirement to match the data with the DL database or the SSN database.

Are driver instruction permits handled the same as a standard driver license?
Yes, according to the GAB.   gabhelpdesk@wi.gov

How is a voter registered if they indicate on the form that they have neither a DL nor a social security number?
The voter is registered without a number.  Section 2 of the registration form instructions calls for the filling in the appropriate circle.  However, this is extremely rare and this situation should be double-checked with the applicant.  Administrative Rule EL 3.02 (4)


Residency and Address Questions                                          

How is residency defined?
The residence of a person is the place where the person's habitation is fixed, without any present intent to move, and to which, when absent, the person intends to return.”  Statute 6.10(1)

In order to vote, how long do I need to live here?
An applicant needs to be a resident for 10 consecutive days before an election.  2011 Act 23 changed this from 10 days to 28 consecutive days, but Judge Peterson's order changed it back to 10 days.

In order to register, how long do I need to live here?
You can register as soon as you move in.  “Individuals may complete and submit a registration form upon establishing a physical presence at a location with the requisite intent at least 28 days prior to an election, even if the individual has not yet resided there for 28 consecutive days.”  Note that 28 is now 10 according to Judge Peterson's order.  Email from Michael Haas, attorney for the Government Accountability Board, 8/16/2012

What if I was gone every weekend?
“Temporary absence does not affect residency. If you are away from your permanent residence for the weekend, that time still counts if you intended to return."  http://www.gab.wi.gov/node/1904

I am moving later than 10 days before the election.   Where do I vote?
You vote at your old polling place.  If you will not be able to get to your old polling place on Election Day, contact your municipal clerk to arrange to vote by absentee ballot.  Then before the next election, re-register using your new address.  http://gab.wi.gov/node/1904

I am a student here for 8 months of the year.  Where should I register?
You have the option to register in the municipality where you are a student.
Alternatively, you may register in your hometown.  If you have been previously registered elsewhere, you are required to list your old address in section 7 of the form, so your old registration can be canceled.
Statute 6.10 (4) “The residence of a … student who boards at different places for part of the … year, if one of the places is the residence of the person's parents, is the place of the parents' residence unless through registration or similar act the person elects to establish a residence elsewhere.” 

I am leaving to study abroad for a year.  Do I lose my right to vote?
No. “It is possible for a person to be temporarily absent from his place of residence even though that absence continues one or two years, or more.”  And:  “Therefore, the fact that a voter can point to no present address within that election district as the specific place to which he intends to return will not necessarily preclude him from claiming his residence in that district.”  From Opinions of the Attorney General, 1971, page 220

If a student leaves for the summer, where do they vote for a summer election, such as the August primary?
Students might fall into one of these three groups:

1) Leaving for the summer with intent to return.  If they do not intend to establish residency at any place they stay until returning for school in the fall, then they may vote absentee from their school address until they have resided for 10 days at a new school address.  Statute 6.10(1)  “A person shall not lose residence when the person leaves home and goes into another state or county, town, village or ward of this state for temporary purposes with an intent to return.”  Statute 6.10(5)

2) Leaving their school residence permanently in May, and moving to another location in Wisconsin. For the next election, they must register in their new location.  http://www.gab.wi.gov/node/1904

3) Leaving their school address permanently with intent to make permanent residence outside of Wisconsin. They are no longer a Wisconsin resident and may not vote in Wisconsin.

How can we make sure an address is in a certain municipality?
Go to “myvote.wi.gov”, a website run by the Wisconsin Election Commission.   Use the "Find My Polling Place" button.  This can also be used to find the contact information for the municipal clerk.  The direct link is https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace.  An alternative for those who are Dane County is Access Dane.  Reduce errors and delays by checking every registration.

Inform every voter about myvote.wi.gov, which has sample ballots and a list of all your elected officials. 

For previous address (section 7), which address should be used?
The voter should enter the address where they were most recently registered, even if it is out-of-state.  If the voter was not previously registered anywhere, this does NOT need to be filled out.  Email from David Buerger of the GAB.

If previously registered in Wisconsin, they can look up the address at myvote.wi.gov, using the Register to Vote button, and entering their name and birth date.

Without this information, this registrant might be linked by the clerk to the wrong existing voter, and the wrong voter will be removed from their poll list.  At the very least, enter as much information about the old address as can be remembered, even if registered in another state.  2011 Act 23 added this to the registration form, statute 6.33(1).

I am an SRD for Madison.  How do I handle applicants from Fitchburg?
You can only act as an SRD for residents of the municipalities for which you have been appointed.  For other applicants, you can assist them with information about proof of residence.    With POR, they can register at their clerk’s office or by mail.  Mailed registration forms should include a copy of the POR document with the registration form.  They can look up the address and phone of the clerk of their municipality at myvotewi.gov by using any of the buttons at the top.


General Registration Questions

Does my registration “expire” if I don’t vote for a period of time?
Yes.  Check myvote.wi.gov to see if your registration is current.   If listed as inactive, you must re-register.  Here are two ways your registration might become inactive:

1) Every two years after the November election, the registration list is revised.  Those who have not voted in four years are notified that their registration will be suspended.  If they do not respond, they are moved to ineligible status.  Therefore, voters who only vote in presidential elections remain on the list of registered voters.  Statute 6.50

2) Each time you register, a verification postcard is sent to your address.   If the postcard is returned undelivered, the clerk will investigate.  If they clerk cannot verify your residency, your status is changed to inactive.  Statute 6.32(4), and for Election Day registrants Statute 6.56(3)  Also see http://www.gab.wi.gov/node/3542

Are felons eligible?
In Section 10 of the registration form, the applicant must certify, “I am not currently serving a sentence including probation or parole for a felony conviction”.  Statute 6.03 (1)

Section 3 of the registration form asks for email address and phone number.  Is this required?
This information is optional. However, the phone number is particularly information helpful if the clerk needs to follow-up with the voter with problems.  This information is subject to open records requests.

What if an applicant misses the early registration deadline (20 days before the election)?
They may register at their clerk’s office.  This is called “late registration” in statute 6.29.  The last day for this is the Friday before the election.  They may also register at their polling place on Election Day.  Early registration is strongly encouraged!

I changed my name.  Should I re-register?
Yes, if your ID has also been updated to show your new name.  On Election Day when you present your ID to get a ballot, the name on your ID must be close to the name under which you are registered.  Details of name changes from the GAB.

May 17-year olds register?
From section 10 of the registration form:
"I hereby certify, to the best of my knowledge, that I am a qualified elector, a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old or will be at least 18 years old at the time of the next election."

Questions about being an SRD

What mistakes should the SRD look for on the completed form?
Check that the birth year is reasonable.  Sometimes applicants write in today’s date.
Check that the driver license number has 14 characters.  The expiration month and day usually is the same as the birth month and day.  Checking for this match also checks that both are on the form.
Check that the form has been signed and dated.
Check that the address is complete and all data is legible.
If “Address Change” in section 1 is checked, check that the old address is in section 7.
Don’t forget to sign it as an SRD, and include your SRD number.  Enter the information on the proof of residence in section 11:  type,  issuing entity, and specific portion of the identifying number.

The deadline for submitting registration applications is 5:00 p.m. on the 3rd Wednesday before an election. For Madison residents, may the SRD submit forms to a Madison library up until 5:00 p.m. on the 3rd Wednesday or must they be in the Clerk’s office by that time?
The forms can be submitted to either the Madison Clerk’s office or a Madison public library up until the deadline.  Alternatively, the application may be mailed to the clerk but must be postmarked no later than the 3rd Wednesday before the election, according to statute 6.28 (1).

What information is confidential?
Confidential information includes: Date of birth, driver license number, DOT issued state ID number, Social Security number, proof of residence account number, and information about elector accommodation, e.g. wheelchair access.  Administrative rule EL 3.20 (2)

What if a voter expresses doubt about trusting an SRD with this confidential information?
If a voter expresses healthy skepticism, you could offer this process:  They fill out the form and show POR, the SRD signs it and fills in POR information, and then gives the form back to the voter to mail in, perhaps with an envelope.  The SRD keeps nothing, so there is no risk to the voter.

May I use my tablet or laptop to help voters show POR?
Take these precautions.  Set your tablet or laptop so that it does not prompt to remember passwords.  For instance, in Chrome, SETTINGS...SHOW ADVANCED SETTINGS, then
uncheck OFFER TO SAVE PASSWORDS.  Also, make sure that the voter logs out.

May the SRD help the applicant fill out the registration form if they have vision or other problems?
Yes, the SRD may fill out most of the form, and then the applicant should sign it.

A different situation occurs if the applicant cannot sign the form.  Then someone may assist by signing on behalf of the applicant.  The assistant must complete section 12, which includes the signature and address of the assistant.   It is strongly recommended that the SRD find a third party to be the assister, to avoid the SRD being the only signer.    Statute 6.33 (2)

When does my appointment end?
Special Registration Deputies are being eliminated in early 2017.  This will be simultaneous with the start of online registration for those with a driver license or DOT ID card. This is in Act 261 as part of the voter suppression program.  All current appointments end December 31, 2016.  The appointment can also be revoked for cause, if the Special Registration Deputy fails to adhere to procedures established by the appointing authority, including submission of completed voter registration application forms in the time and manner prescribed by the appointing authority; or if the Special Registration Deputy falsifies, fails to submit, or wrongfully suppresses a voter registration application form or otherwise commits official misconduct.  Administrative rules  EL 3.10 (5) and EL 3.13

May an SRD be paid?
“Individuals or organizations conducting voter registration drives may not pay any individual collecting voter registration application forms compensation based on the number of registration forms collected as prohibited in s. 12.13 (3) (ze), Stats.”  Administrative rule EL 3.20 (6)

When is early registration?
Early registration ends 20 days (a Wednesday) before the next election.  Upcoming election in 2016:  November 8, 2016.  Any special elections affect open registration.

Where can I find out more?

Why help people register to vote?
"...that government to be the strongest of which every man feels himself a part." -- Thomas Jefferson to Edward Tiffin, 1807.

This FAQ prepared by Paul Malischke, with help from others.

Web page by Paul Malischke malischke@yahoo.com  Last updated March 02, 2017