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How To Return Your Absentee Ballot In Milwaukee

Maayan Silver
In Milwaukee, voters have two options for returning their absentee ballots: by mail or ballot drop boxes.

Updated Oct. 29 at 11:12 a.m. CT

Wisconsin has issued nearly 1.9 million absentee ballots, with around 250,000 ballots that have not been marked as returned. With so many people voting absentee, WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR put together a quick and simple guide to returning your absentee ballot in Milwaukee.

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Currently, the easiest way of returning your absentee ballot is through a ballot drop box. With less than a week until the election, election officials say ballots should not be returned through the mail. The USPS can not guarantee the ballot will arrive by Election Day and after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, any ballots recieved after Nov. 3 will not be counted. 

In Milwaukee, absentee ballots can’t be returned to your polling place.

Returning by ballot drop box

Just like returning by mail, your ballot must be sealed inside the envelope with the ballot certification signatures and address on the front. Without a witness signature and address information, your ballot will not be counted.

After it's sealed, you can put it in any of the absentee ballot drop boxes in Milwaukee. They are open at all hours, every day until 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. So if you're returning your absentee ballot in person on Election Day, make sure you bring it to one of the drop boxes by 7:30 p.m. 

You can check myvote.wi.gov to see if your absentee ballot has been received.

You can also drop your ballot off directly to the Milwaukee Election Commission's office on the 5th floor of City Hall through Election Day. 

Unlike some past elections, Milwaukee will not be offering drive-thru ballot drop-off locations. But as always, the city will offer curbside voting at polling places for those who physically can't leave their cars. Curbside voting is also an option for people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

If you receive an absentee ballot but decide to cast an in-person ballot, as long as you don't submit your absentee ballot, you can vote in person early or on Election Day.

Returning by mail

With less than seven days until the election, the USPS can not guarentee a ballot will arrive by Election Day. Voters should deliver their absentee ballots through ballot drop boxes or directly the Milwaukee Election Commission's office. 

Once your ballot is sealed in the certificate envelope, it can be returned without postage through USPS. Keep in mind: Without a witness signature and address information, your ballot will be thrown out.

It can take several days to process and send your ballot to the election commission, so the earlier you mail your ballot the better. But at minimum, mail your ballot four to five days before the election — remember, USPS does not operate on Sundays. 

You can check if your absentee ballot's been received at myvote.wi.gov.

Currently, absentee ballots must be in the hands of election clerks by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. While Democrats sued to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots by six days, a federal appeals court blocked the decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court.

Editor's Note: The deadline for putting your absentee ballot into a drop box changed from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., after an Oct. 20 Wisconsin Elections Commission memo stating that all ballots must be in a polling place or election office when the polls close at 8 p.m.

What questions do you have about voting in Wisconsin? Submit your questions below.


From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.
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