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Recent rulings that Texas' voting laws discriminate put pressure on the state, but the road ahead is long
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 01:00

Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill to address the discriminatory issues found with the voter ID law. But Democrats say it falls short of meeting the standards that a district court set last year.

Plaintiffs want District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi to consider throwing out the law after the legislative session and returning the state to the federal government's "pre-clearance" list.

But even if that happened, the Texas attorney general's office would almost certainly challenge the decision in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ...

The parties in the [redistricting] case are set to meet in San Antonio on Thursday. The three-judge panel will hear updates on whether a trial is needed and what a timeline for the rest of the case might look like.

But the panel has moved slowly and methodically throughout the case for over six years. It is unlikely to grant the plaintiffs' requests — for new congressional maps for the 2018 elections and federal oversight — before tackling other remaining issues, such as whether the 2013 interim maps were also discriminatory.

And even if the court sided with the plaintiffs in a trial and struck down the maps, Texas could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court — dragging out the case even longer.

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Wisconsin Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadlines: By mail: October 19, 2016

In-person at their municipal clerk’s office: November 4, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. or the close of business

On Election Day, November 8 (you must provide proof of residency for at least 10 days)

My Vote Wisconsin

Election Day:

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time on Election Day.

Wisconsin allows early voting at your local municipal clerk’s office on weekdays from October 24, 2016 to November 4, 2016 until 5:00 p.m. or the close of business (whichever is later). 

How to Find Your Polling Place:  Visit the My Vote Wisconsin polling place look up page.  


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines:

If registering for the General Election by mail, the voter registration application must be postmarked no later than October 19,2016.  Electronic registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on October 19. Voters may also register in-person at their municipal clerk’s office until November 4, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. or the close of business (whichever is later).  

How to Check Your Registration: Visit My Vote Wisconsin or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register in Wisconsin, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Reside in Wisconsin 10 days of consecutive days;
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before Election Day;
  • Not be a convicted felon, unless your sentence has been fully completed (including probation and parole); and
  • Not declared mentally incompetent through a judicial proceeding.

How to Register: Wisconsin residents may register in any of the following ways: 

In Person

By Special Registration Deputy (SRDs): SRDs are trained by some municipalities to collect voter registration forms. Those SRDs must turn in all registration forms by 5:00 p.m. on the 20th day before the election and cannot collect registration forms after that date. You must always provide a Proof of Residence document when registering with an SRD.

In the municipal clerk’s office: You may register in person in your municipal clerk’s office up until the Friday before the election at 5:00 p.m. or close of business, whichever is later. You must always provide a proof of residence document when registering to vote.

At the polling place on Election Day: You may register at the polls on Election Day. You must always provide a proof of residence document when registering to vote.

By Mail

Up to 20 days before the election (October 19, 2016). Registration forms should be mailed to your municipal clerk.

You can start your voter registration form online. Your form must be printed, signed, and mailed or delivered to your municipal clerk. You must always provide a proof of residence document when registering. If you are registering by mail, you can use any of the forms of proof of residence except a residential lease.

Identification Required for Registration: To register to vote in Wisconsin, you must provide a proof of residence, which includes you name and current address. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • A current and valid State of Wisconsin Driver License or State ID card;
  • Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit;
  • 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 real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election;
  • 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;
  • A gas, electric, or telephone service statement (utility bill) for the period commencing no earlier than 90 days before Election Day;
  • Bank statement;
  • Paycheck or paystub;
  • A check or other document issued by a unit of government;
  • A letter on public or private social service agency letterhead identifying a homeless voter and describing the individual’s residence for voting purposes;
  • Residential lease that is effective on date of registration (not valid if registering by mail); or
  • An intake document from a residential care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility.

If You Want to Vote Early

Wisconsin allows early voting at your local municipal clerk’s office on weekdays from October 24, 2016 until 5:00 p.m. or the close of business (whichever is later) on November 4, 2016. Early voting is no longer permitted on the weekends.

Voters may search for their municipal clerk at the My Vote Wisconsin webpage.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Registered Wisconsin voters may vote absentee without a reason or excuse by filling out an application and mailing it to the municipal clerk’s office. An application for an absentee ballot can also be made via email or fax no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 3, 2016.

An absentee ballot sent via the U.S. Postal Service must be postmarked no later than Election Day, November 8 and RECEIVED no later than 4:00 p.m. on November 11, 2016. Other types of delivery (e.g. FedEx or hand-delivery) must be received no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

An absentee application is available on the Wisconsin Government Accountability webpage.

A list of municipal clerk offices is available the My Vote Wisconsin webpage.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

  • A driver’s license or ID card issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation;
  • A military ID card issued by a U.S. uniformed service;
  • A U.S. passport;
  • A veteran’s photo ID card issued by the Veterans Health Administration;
  • An identification card issued by a federally recognized Native American tribe in Wisconsin;
  • A certificate of naturalization that was issued on or after November 8, 2014;
  • A driving receipt issued by Wisconsin DOT (valid for 45 days);
  • An identification card receipt issued by Wisconsin DOT (valid for 45 days); or
  • A photo identification card issued by a Wisconsin accredited university or college that contains date of issuance, signature of student, and an expiration date no later than two years after date of issuance. Such identification must be accompanied by a separate document that proves enrollment.  (May be used even if expired before the most recent general election.)

VoteRiders has created Wisconsin voter ID info cards in English (madison), English (Milwaukee), and in Spanish (Madison), Spanish (Milwaukee).

If you have moved within the same county, you may vote either at the polling place where you are registered or at the polling place for your new residence or address.

Each voter must vote at the appropriate polling place for his or her current address (as long as he or she has lived in that location for at least 10 days). Voters who have moved, even within the same ward or municipality, are required to re-register with an updated proof of residence. Voters who have moved within Wisconsin and lived in their current locations for less than 10 days must vote at the polling place for their prior address, either in-person or by absentee ballot. Voters who have lived in Wisconsin for less than 10 days are only eligible to cast a Presidential-only ballot.

Military and other overseas citizens may use the standard procedure for absentee voting, but there are also special provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and merchant marine, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with family members of all these groups, and other citizens who reside outside the United States (together these groups are called UOCAVA voters).

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) Wisconsin page. UOCAVA voters may also register to vote and request an absentee ballot through the My Vote Wisconsin webpage.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.  You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that you are away from your voting residence for service-related activities.  You must apply for a regular ballot early enough for your local election officials to receive the request at least 5 days before the election.  If you do not receive your regular ballot in time, you may use the FWAB.  Your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in Wisconsin no later than noon on Election Day.  For specific instructions, visit https://www.fvap.gov/fwab-privacy-notice.

You are not eligible to vote in Wisconsin if you have been convicted of a felony and you are currently serving any portion of your sentence (including extended supervision, probation, or parole, also known as being “on paper”).

Once you successfully complete your sentence and are no longer under the supervision of the Department of Corrections (“off paper”) your voting rights are restored, and you regain your eligibility to vote.  You must re-register to vote.

If you are in jail serving a misdemeanor sentence or awaiting trial, you are still eligible to vote -- usually by absentee ballot.  More information on voting for former felons and other incarcerated individuals is available on the Wisconsin Elections and Ethics Commissions’ website.

Under Wisconsin law, an individual convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery may vote once they have (a) completed the relevant imprisonment and probation term or been pardoned and (b) re-registered to vote.


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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Election Information for your state