Changes in Voting Laws and Advance Voting

In the past year a number of changes have been made to voting laws in the State of Wisconsin. Below are brief highlights of three changes to Wisconsin voting laws. Two of these changes will affect how students vote in the next scheduled election on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. One change has been blocked by court order, and that order has been appealed to a higher court. If the higher court reinstates this change, it will impact how students vote in the November 6, 2012 election.

1. First change currently in effect to Wisconsin voting laws: Proof of Residence to register to vote: The first change implemented affects the way that colleges and universities in Wisconsin provide students with documents to register to vote. Any Wisconsin voter who registers to vote at least 20 days before an election is not required to provide any proof of residence. To register to vote without proof of residence for the November 6, 2012, election, your voter registration application must be received, delivered, or postmarked by Wednesday, October 17, 2012.

Students can register to vote without proof of residence one of the following three ways:

Any Wisconsin voter who registers 19 days or less before an election is required to provide proof of residence. So, you can still register to vote after October 17, 2012, but you will need to provide proof of residence to vote in the November 6, 2012, election. UW students who need proof of residence to register, can request an Enrollment Verification from their UW institution. Instructions about how to access those documents are available at the Enrollment Verification webpage of the UW System Student Voting Guide.

2. Second Change currently in effect to Wisconsin voting laws: 28 Day Residency required to vote: The second change to voting law that impacts students is the requirement that voters reside in a district or ward in Wisconsin for 28 days before they can vote in that district. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) has provided guidance and examples to help students determine how the 28 day residency rule affects them.

3. POTENTIAL change currently NOT in effect to Wisconsin voting laws: Photo Identification (Voter ID):  Finally, the recently adopted photo ID requirement in Wisconsin has been blocked by court order. A higher court is reviewing that order, and it is currently unclear whether this photo ID requirement will be in place for November 6, 2012, election. If the photo ID requirement is reinstated for that election and you have a current Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card or one that expired after the last general election (November 2, 2010), you may use that document as proof of identification. Descriptions of other types acceptable documents are available at the proof of identification webpage of the UW System Student Voting Guide. If you want a campus issued voter ID compliant student ID card, all UW campuses will issue such a card upon your request. Keep in mind that such a card is only valid as proof of identification along with an Enrollment Verification.

We hope this is a helpful quick-reference to changes in the voting laws in Wisconsin and encourage you to visit the UW System Student Voting Guide for details. Please share this information with all your friends and classmates and encourage them to register and vote, and vote early.

From Mark A. Nook, Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, University of Wisconsin System. Effective as of October 10, 2012.


  1. For information about registering to vote in person, see:,-before-the-election,-at-your-municipal-clerksoffice/
  2. For information about registering to vote by mail, see:,-with-your-municipal-clerks-office/
  3. For information about registering to vote by special election deputy, see:
  4. For more information about how to request an enrollment verification, see:
  5. To see the UW System Student Voting Guide, see:
  6. For information about how the 28-day residence rule affects you, see:
  7. For information about proof of identification, see:
  8. For more information about how to request a voter id compliant student id card, see:

Note: While advance voting for the Nov. 6 election is already under way in some states, it will begin Monday in Wisconsin and run through Friday, Nov. 2. Ballots must be cast in person at the voter’s municipal clerk’s office. Absentee ballots cast by mail are now being accepted. Registered voters can request absentee ballots by mail, email or fax from their municipal clerk’s offices. The clerk must receive the application by Thursday, Nov. 1, for an absentee ballot to be sent. The absentee ballot must be postmarked no later than Nov. 6 (Election Day) and received at the appropriate municipal clerk’s office by Friday, Nov. 9, in order to be counted. People who have moved or changed their names since last voting must re-register to vote. They can do so at the polls on Election Day or ahead of time at their clerk’s office.

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