Still haven’t voted? Here’s what you need to know on Election Day

By: - November 3, 2020 5:00 am
Ballot box vote by Thor_Deichmann via Pixabay

Ballot box vote by Thor_Deichmann via Pixabay

More than 1.8 million Wisconsinites have already cast a ballot in this year’s presidential election, but for the remaining voters there are important things to remember as they head to the polls on Election Day to vote for president and in a number of state and local races. 

Polls open on Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. For anyone still waiting when polls close, it’s important to remain in line because polling locations won’t close until everyone in line has voted — no matter how long that takes. 

To find the correct polling location, voters can check MyVote.WI.Gov. Some polling locations may be different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Because of the pandemic, voters are being encouraged to wear masks and social distancing will be enforced in lines. Some polling locations, especially in smaller buildings, may have capacity limits. Voters will also be asked to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands before voting. 

Curbside voting is also available for immunocompromised voters or voters who may be displaying symptoms of or have been exposed to COVID-19. 

“Any voter who is immunocompromised, was exposed to or has symptoms of COVID-19, or has a disability must be allowed to curbside vote,” Wisconsin Elections Commission COVID-19 guidance states.

Voters can also check their registration status online at the MyVote website before going to the polls. If a registration is out of date or an eligible voter isn’t registered, same-day registration is available at polling locations. 

Same-day registration requires voters to present a proof of residence document such as a driver’s license or state ID. 

Voters need to have lived at their current Wisconsin residence for 28 days. If someone has moved within the state during that time period, they need to vote at their previous address. 

All absentee ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. Thousands of absentee ballots sent out by municipal clerks have not yet been returned. While the mail is no longer an available method for returning ballots, there are other options. 

Ballots can still be hand delivered to local clerks’ offices, drop boxes or polling places — though the availability of each depends on a voter’s municipality. 

In some places, like Madison, drop boxes will close Monday evening and not be available on Tuesday, so voters should check with local officials on availability. 

In the 39 municipalities that use a central count location to process absentee ballots, which includes large cities such as Milwaukee, Green Bay and Kenosha, voters must now return their ballots to that central count location or the municipal clerk’s office — not their regular polling place. 


For voters in the remaining non-central-count municipalities, ballots can be brought to the polling place on Tuesday. 

Voters who requested an absentee ballot but have since changed their minds can go vote in person as long as the absentee ballot has not already been put in the mail.  Voters who have already returned ballots cannot vote in person. 

Poll workers at central count locations and polling places will be working all day to count absentee ballots, although because of the added time needed to process those ballots, it is expected that Wisconsin’s vote total will be known later than in previous years. 

Poll workers can not stop counting absentee ballots until they’ve all been counted, according to state law. 

Election officials in Milwaukee County, which has the largest number of absentee ballots, have said the county’s results are expected between 3 and 6 a.m. 

Wisconsin has never had official election results on Election Day. Even in 2016, when Wisconsin was the so-called tipping point that gave Donald Trump the presidency, the state’s unofficial results weren’t available until early Wednesday morning. 

Unofficial results posted to county clerk’s websites will also look slightly different because of the large amount of absentee ballots — mostly in the counties with central count municipalities. Those counties will not be able to display full results from each ward because some of a ward’s ballots may still be uncounted at the central count facility.

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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.