League of Women Voters: tips for making your vote count
The Janesville League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization that advocates voter participation, encourages voters to wade through the often confusing and sometimes misleading information of broadcast ads, robocalls and mass mailings bombarding them with information as the Nov. 6 election nears. They offer the following tips:
Don’t be confused by mailings. Many voters in our battleground state are receiving mailings from political campaigns and independent groups, some of which contain a form to request a voter registration application or receive an absentee ballot. These mailings may include your telephone number, birth date and voting record.
The organizations behind these mailings gather information from multiple sources. For example, your voting record is public information, and the state does sell voter lists to private organizations. However, your birth date is not public, and there is no record of how you voted in any given election. It is best to work directly with your municipal clerk’s office or a Special Registration Deputy with a trusted organization, rather than respond to a mailing by an organization which might not understand Wisconsin election law.
Register before Election Day if possible. There are four options:
Start online at the Government Accountability Board’s voter information website https://myvote.wi.gov/. Fill out the form and print, sign and return it to your Clerk. Your information will be saved in the system waiting for the Clerk to receive your signed paper form. Forms postmarked by the close of open registration on October 17 do not require additional proof of residence. Forms received afterward will require additional proof of residence to be provided at the polling place.
Register with a Special Registration Deputy during the open registration period;
Register in person at your municipal Clerk’s Office by Friday, November 2.
Register at your polling place on Election Day. Proof of residence will be required.
Follow the instructions for absentee voting. If you complete your absentee ballot or certificate incorrectly, your vote will not be counted and you probably will never even know it. To avoid this, carefully follow the instructions you receive with your absentee ballot. Mail your absentee ballot back to the Clerk’s Office as early as possible. It must be postmarked by Election Day and received by November 9. Alternately, you may cast an absentee ballot at your Clerk’s Office between October 22 and November 2.
A final word of caution. A law passed last year makes it a felony to vote at the polling place if you have already returned a completed absentee ballot. Previously voters who cast an absentee ballot before the election, and then changed their mind or realized they made a mistake, could go to the polling place and vote on Election Day, if their absentee ballot had not already been counted. Their absentee ballot would not be counted. This is no longer an option.