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Stay Safe: Vote From Home This Fall

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This fall, AARP Wisconsin is focused on ensuring that residents know how to vote safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the April 7 primary, some voters waited in long lines for hours, in bad weather, after contradictory state instructions and last- minute court decisions fueled confusion.

And potential challenges to voting rules could lead to more turmoil come November.

“Voters need to be ready for late-breaking changes to the voting process that might make it easier or harder to vote,” said Lisa Lamkins, AARP Wisconsin’s director of advocacy for federal issues. Still, existing requirements for safe, secure voting are clear, she said. “Absentee and early voting are two good options.”

VOTING GUIDE: What You Need To Know

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is slated to mail out absentee ballot applications in mid-September to all eligible voters who haven’t already requested one.

Most voters must include a copy of their photo identification with their ballot application. Options include a Wisconsin driver’s license, state-issued ID card or U.S. passport.

A copy of the ID can be submitted online or by mail. And residents can submit a copy at any time to avoid delays in processing the absentee ballot application. To learn more about photo ID regulations online, visit

Any registered Wisconsin voter can request an absentee ballot; no reason is needed.

Those who haven’t received an absentee ballot in the mail after they’ve requested one should contact their municipal clerk.

Voters using an absentee ballot must have a witness observe the process of marking the ballot and then sign the outside of the envelope.

Early voting is another way to lessen the potential health risks of casting a ballot in the COVID-19 era.

Early voting opens two weeks before Election Day, at municipal clerk’s offices and potentially at additional polling places.

Safety precautions will be in place for in-person voting on Election Day, Nov. 3. But some polling sites may be closed because of the pandemic, so check with your municipal clerk to see where you can go to vote.

Learn more at, where you can register to vote, check your registration status, find your polling place, see what’s on your ballot, request an absentee ballot and more.

Also, visit for tips on voting safely and securely.

Joanne Cleaver is a writer living in Portland, ME.

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