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Wisconsin's next election is Aug. 13. It's the primary election for dozens of Wisconsin legislative seats, and it will include two constitutional amendment ballot questions. Here's a guide to help people vote in Wisconsin.

What is and isn't allowed at the polls when you vote in person in Wisconsin

People form a line in front of three voting booths. Each booth is occupied voting by one person. An American flag hangs on a wall behind the voting booths.
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Adobe Stock
People form a line in front of three voting booths

Editor's Note: This story was originally published April 1, 2024.

Aug. 13 is the primary election for numerous Wisconsin Assembly and Senate elections, along with other offices.

But what if you get to the polls and aren’t familiar with some of the candidates or questions? WUWM talked to Milwaukee Election Commission Director Claire Woodall earlier this year about what is and isn’t allowed when voting in-person on election day.

The following are excerpts from that interview, some portions edited, paraphrased or consolidated for clarity.

What are the most important things that voters should consider before going to the polls?  

The most important thing you can do is make sure you're going to the correct polling place. If you go to myvote.wi.gov and click on Find My Polling Place, you can put in your address and pull up your polling place. You should be voting from the address that you lived at a month before Election Day.

The next thing you want to remember is to bring your photo ID. Wisconsin has a very strict photo ID law. You cannot use an out-of-state driver's license. You may only use a Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID, a US passport, a military ID, or about three or four other acceptable forms of photo ID.

If someone were to go to the polls and they needed help for whatever reason, what kind of things can a poll worker help with? 

They can assist you, whether it’s figuring out which ward you're in or helping you register to vote. We have curbside voting available, and an election worker can assist with that. They can basically assist with all parts of the voting process. If you have a disability and it is difficult for you to fill in a ballot, a poll worker is happy to fill the circles for you in the booth. We also have machines called ExpressVote machines. They have a touch screen where you can enlarge the font. You can create a high contrast where it'll have a black background with white font. There are headphones that you can put on to hear and have the candidates be read aloud to you, and there's also a Braille touch keypad.

The only thing that a poll worker cannot do is to give you any guidance on how to vote. We can't answer any questions about the candidates or their viewpoints. In [the April 2] election, there [were] three referendums on the ballot, and a lot of voters get frustrated because they're written in complicated language. The only thing the poll worker can do is read the Type C notice, which repeats the question in a different language but pretty much the same language.

Can you use your phone to look up information about candidates or to help you understand the referendums? 

You are welcome to look things up silently on your phone. You can also bring in a pre-filled sample ballot if you want, or a note reminding you how you plan to vote. All of that is perfectly fine. The only thing you can't do in the polling place is talk out loud, where others could overhear how you're going to vote or what your opinions are.

Can you take selfies with your ballot or take a picture of your ballot?

No, so you shouldn't take a picture of your ballot, especially not your voted ballot. What we recommend you do is wait until you get your “I voted” sticker and take a selfie. You can take a selfie in the polling place if your ballot is not in the picture, just don't cause a disturbance.

You say talking to people about who you’re voting for isn’t allowed at the polls. Why is that not allowed? 

It's the same reason why election workers can't give you advice on how to vote. We would also discourage you from wearing hats, buttons, T-shirts, that advocate for a specific candidate. It's considered electioneering. Once you go into the polling place, everyone should have decided how to vote and not be influenced by anyone else, so that's why there are those laws.

Is there anything else that isn’t allowed at the polls? 

Not really, we want your voting experience to be positive, not to be scary. If there's any concerns about your polling place, whether it's accessibility or just the location, please do not hesitate to contact the Election Commission. Unless you tell us, we don't know that there could be an issue.

Is there anything else that you wanted to mention? Anything helpful for voters who want to vote in person on election day? 

One thing that we sometimes take for granted is that we do live in a state where it's never too late to register to vote. If you've never voted in Wisconsin before or you've moved since the last time you voted and you need to do an address update, you can still do that on election day. That's not the case in many states. The polls are open from 7 am — 8 pm. You will get to vote if you're in line by 8 pm.

Support for the Eric Von Broadcast Fellowship is provided, in part, by Bader Philanthropies.

Your feedback will help inform our election coverage.

Nadya is WUWM's sixth Eric Von fellow.
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