The Facts on Photo Identification (ID) Requirements, Absentee Voting and Voter Registration
Beginning with the 2016 Spring Primary, all Wisconsin voters must show an acceptable photo ID before voting. This includes voters at polling places and many absentee voters.
- The address on your photo ID does NOT have to be your current address and the name on your ID does NOT need to be an exact match to your name in the poll book (for example, “Rob" versus “Robert,” or “Sue” instead of “Susan”).
- You will need to show one of the photo ID types listed below. Please note that there is no such thing as a "Voter ID Card."
1. VOTING AND ACCEPTABLE PHOTO IDs
The following photo IDs are acceptable, even if they are recently expired (as long the ID did not expire before the last Fall General Election).
- A Wisconsin Driver License, even if driving privileges are revoked or suspended
- A Wisconsin Identification Card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (available for free)
- A Military ID card issued by a U.S. uniformed service
- A U.S. Passport
- An identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin (can be used even if expired, regardless of expiration date)
The following IDs are also acceptable, but cannot be expired:
- A Wisconsin Driver License receipt or Wisconsin Identification Card receipt issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (valid for 45 days after it is issued)
- A Certificate of Naturalization that was issued not earlier than two years before the date of the election
- A photo identification card issued by a Wisconsin accredited university or college that contains (1) date of issuance, (2) signature of student, and (3) an expiration date no later than two years after date of issuance. Also, the university or college ID must be accompanied by a separate document that proves current enrollment, such as a tuition fee receipt, enrollment verification letter or class schedule.
- A citation or notice of intent to revoke or suspend a Wisconsin DOT-issued Driver License that is dated within 60 days of the date of the election.
- A State of Wisconsin, DOT issued, identification card without a photo, issued to those electors with a religious objection to being photographed
2. ABSENTEE VOTING AND PHOTO ID
As long as you are registered to vote at your current address, you may request to have an absentee ballot (meaning you will not be appearing at your polling place) mailed to your home or a mailing address. Whether or not you will be required to provide a photo ID in order to receive your absentee ballot depends on whether you are a permanent or temporary absentee voter.
- If you are a permanent absentee voter, meaning you are indefinitely confined and unable to leave your home due to age, illness, infirmity or disability, you are not required to provide a photo ID when requesting your absentee ballot.
- If you are a temporaryabsentee voter, meaning you are only requesting a ballot for selected elections and do not qualify to be a permanent absentee voter, you will need to provide a photocopy of an acceptable photo ID (see list above) before your absentee ballot can be mailed.The copy of your ID will be kept on file, and you will not need to submit it again when making future requests for an absentee ballot.
- If you vote during the in-person absentee “early” voting period, you must show your photo ID as you would on Election Day.
3. VOTER REGISTRATION AND PROOF OF RESIDENCE
Completing the voter registration process is necessary for first-time voters, or for anyone whose name and/or address have changed. When registering, you will need to prove you live at your address through a “PROOF OF RESIDENCE” document or ID. You may use any acceptable photo ID to meet the proof of residence requirement, as long as that ID contains your name and current address.
If your photo ID does not have your address on it, or the address is not current on your ID, you will need an additional PROOF OF RESIDENCE document that contains your name and current address, which may include any of the following:
- A current and valid Wisconsin Driver License or a current and valid Wisconsin Identification Card.
- Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit. Examples: A DNR-issued fishing license, hazardous materials handling license, conceal carry license.
- Any identification card issued by an employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the card holder, but not including a business card.
- A residential lease that is effective for a period that includes the date of voter registration*.
- A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election*.
- A utility bill for the period beginning 90 days or less before the date of registration; includes electric, gas, water or sewer bills (name must appear on the bill); cable (including satellite) or internet bills; phone bills (including cellular)*.
- A bank statement*.
- A paycheck. Example: A paycheck when it is an actual check or a record of direct deposit. A check stub*.
- A check or other document/official correspondence issued by a unit of government. Examples: Medicare or BadgerCare Plus notices and explanation of benefits (not private health insurance or third party providers); SSI notices; Wisconsin motor vehicle registrations; public high school, state university and technical college documents; Wisconsin Works; Wisconsin Shares; correspondence, notices or other paperwork from any government agency; tax refund checks; public library correspondence or records; court notices and paperwork; police reports.
- An identification card (must include photo) issued by a university, college, or technical college ONLY if the voter provides a fee receipt dated within the last nine (9) months*. Example: A student ID and a copy of tuition receipt from the Bursar’s office.
- An affidavit for homeless voters. Example: A letter from a shelter or other organization providing services to the homeless. The letter identifies the individual and describes the location designated as the person’s residence for voting purposes. The identification letter should be on letterhead and signed by a person affiliated with the social services organization.
*Note that electronic versions of these documents, where available, are also acceptable.
4. WISCONSIN’S FREE DMV-ISSSUED IDENTIFICATION (ID) CARD
To get a free Wisconsin ID card, you will need to take a few documents to your Division of Motor Vehicles office.
There's a long list of documents you can use listed below, but you will be fine with a certified birth certificate, a Social Security card and a utility bill or cell phone bill.
Be sure to bring originals — photocopies are not acceptable— and check the box that says “ID for Free” on your application. Once it’s complete, you’ll get a receipt (valid for 45 days) that you can use at the polls until your state ID arrives by mail.
The documents fall into four categories. You must provide a document to satisfy each category. You’ll notice that some records, like a certified birth certificate, satisfy more than one category:
CATEGORY 1: PROOF OF NAME AND DATE OF BIRTH
Acceptable documents that satisfy this category include:
- Certified birth certificate from Wisconsin
- Certified birth certificate from another State or Territory of the United States, or a certificate of birth abroad issued by the U.S. Dept. of State (federal forms FS-545 or DS-1350). In line with Puerto Rico's law, as of October 31, 2010, Wisconsin will not accept any Puerto Rican birth certificate certified before July 1, 2010. More information at www.pr.gov.
- Current (non-expired) U.S. passport.
- Valid foreign passport with federal I-551 or I-94, arrival and departure record.
- Valid Wisconsin Driver License/DMV issued ID Card, with your photograph and signature.
- Federal I-551 Alien Registration Receipt Card.
- Federal I-94 Arrival-Departure Record (Parole or Refugees Version), a reception and placement program assurance form plus a letter from sponsoring agency and MV3002.
- U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (N-550 or N-570).
- U.S. Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561).
- Federal temporary resident card or employment authorization card (I-688, I-688B or I-766).
- Native American Identification Card issued in Wisconsin by a federally recognized tribe.
- Court order with court seal related to the adoption or divorce of the individual or to a name or gender change that includes the person's current full legal name, date of birth and the person's prior name. This does not include an abstract of criminal or civil conviction.
- Armed Forces of the U.S. ID Card; Common Access Card or DD Form 2.
- TSA Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card).
CATEGORY 2: PROOF OF IDENTITY
- Acceptable documents that satisfy this category include: A valid WI or out-of-state Driver License (not a Canadian Driver License) with your photograph. Note: Temporary out-of-state driving receipts are not acceptable.
- Military discharge papers, including Federal DD-214.
- U.S. Government and Military Dependent ID Card.
- A valid WI or out-of-state ID card (not a Canadian ID card) with your photograph.
- Certified copy of a Marriage Certificate or Judgment of Divorce.
- Social Security Card issued by the Social Security Administration.
- If you are under 18 at that time of application, your parent or legal guardian can show a valid Wisconsin Driver License or ID card and confirm your identity.
- TSA Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card).
CATEGORY 3: PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP OR LEGAL STATUS
- Acceptable documents that satisfy this category include:U.S. state or local government-issued certificate of birth (certified copy - birth registration and hospital certificates are not acceptable).
- Valid U.S. passport.
- U.S. Certificate of Citizenship (federal form N-560 or N-561).
- U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (federal form N-550 or N-570).
- DHS/Transportation Security Administration (TSA) transportation worker identification credential.
CATEGORY 4: PROOF OF WISCONSIN RESIDENCY
Note that the WI DOT proof of residency requirements differ in some ways from the WI state voter registration proof of residency requirements. Acceptable documents that satisfy this category include:
- Employee photo identification card issued by your current employer, containing your employer's name and address. Your employer's telephone number may be required for verification.
- Pay check or stub or earning statement with your name and Wisconsin address, and your employer's name and address, issued within the last 90 days. Your employer's telephone number may be required for verification.
- A utility bill for water, gas, electricity or landline telephone service (including cell phone) issued within the last 90 days. Cable or similar bundles of services that include landline telephone service is included in this category. Electronic copies are acceptable.
- An account statement from a Wisconsin bank/financial institution issued within the last 90 days. This includes savings, checking or money market accounts held in banks or credit unions. Electronic copies are acceptable.
- Certified school record or transcript that identifies you by name, shows your current address and is issued within the last 90 days for the most recent school period.
- Mortgage documents for a residential property.
- Community based/assisted living residential contracts.
- Your current valid homeowner, renter or motor vehicle insurance policy dated within one year of application.
- Government-issued correspondence or product issued within the last 90 days from a federal, state, county or city agency.
- Department of Corrections documentation: Letters from probation/parole agents on letterhead issued within the last 90 days.
- Your college enrollment documentation or Form 2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status with your current Wisconsin address.
- A photo identification card issued by a Wisconsin accredited university or college that contains the following: date of issuance, signature of student, and an expiration date no later than two years after date of issuance. The university or college ID must be accompanied by a separate document that proves student’s current address (housing contract or lease).
- Valid Wisconsin hunting or fishing license.
For more information about getting a free state ID card, visit the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles website or call (414) 266-1000.
5. OTHER ELECTION INFORMATION
- You can register by mail or at any Milwaukee Public Library branch up to 20 days before the election, at City Hall Room 501 up until 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the election, or at your polling place on the day of the election.
If you are uncertain of your registration, you may review your registration record on the My Vote Wisconsion website or call (414) 286-3491.
- 10 Day Residency Rule: If you moved to a new address MORE THAN 10 DAYS before the election date, you are required by law to register to vote at your new address. If your move occurred LESS THAN 10 days before the election, you may still vote from your previous address (where you were living before you moved) until the next election. If you were not registered to vote at that previous address, you will need to register and show a proof of residence document that you lived at that address.
- Requesting an absentee ballot: You may submit your request for an absentee ballot by email or by mail to the address listed below. Your request should include your name and the address where you are registered. Voters who certify that they are indefinitely confined, in the military, or indefinitely overseas are exempt from providing photo ID with their request. All other absentee voters must provide a copy of acceptable photo ID unless they have already provided one with a previous absentee request.
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
200 East Wells, Room 501
Milwaukee, WI 53202
- Locating the place where you vote: You can locate your polling place on the Election Commission’s website or call (414) 286-3491.