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Politics

Here’s What You Need to Know About Voting (or Turning in Your Ballot) Tuesday

your basic voting questions answered

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

During a normal election year, the vast majority Chippewa Valley voters would be casting ballots in person on Election Day – Tuesday, Nov. 3. This, of course, has been anything BUT normal year, and because of the pandemic there has been a huge surge in early voting – either by mail-in absentee ballot or drive-through at Eau Claire’s City Hall and elsewhere in other Wisconsin communities.

However, thousands of voters in the Chippewa Valley are either still planning on voting in person or haven’t yet turned in their absentee ballots. If you’re among them, here are some things you need to know to make sure your electoral voice is heard.

DO YOU STILL HAVE AN ABSENTEE BALLOT TO TURN IN?

Based on the latest data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, as of Monday morning (Nov. 2) nearly 6,000 voters in Eau Claire, Chippewa, and Dunn counties haven’t yet turned in their absentee ballots. If you’re one of these voters, you MUST turn in your ballot by 8pm Tuesday – when the in-person polls close.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that late-arriving ballots can’t be counted, so it’s definitely a hard deadline. In other words, DON’T drop your filled-out ballot in the mail – it won’t arrive in time. But don’t despair – there are still options for making sure your ballot still counts:

  1. DROP IT OFF AT YOUR MUNICIPAL CLERK’S OFFICE. In the City of Eau Claire, the clerk’s office is in City Hall, 203 S. Farwell St. If you live in another community, you can find the address of your clerk’s office at myvote.wi.gov.
  2. PUT IT IN AN OFFICIAL DROP BOX. In the City of Eau Claire, there are four drop boxes: City Hall, 203 S. Farwell St. (Located on the south side of the building on Grand Avenue); Festival Foods, 2615 N. Clairemont Ave.; Festival Foods, 2717 Birch St.; and Festival Foods, 3007 Mall Drive. To find out if there’s an official drop box in your municipality, check out (you guessed it!) myvote.wi.gov.
  3. DROP IT OFF AT YOUR REGULAR POLLING PLACE ON ELECTION DAY. Swing by your regular in-person polling place between 7am and 8pm on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and give it directly to election officials. Don’t know where your polling place is? Visit myvote.wi.gov, plug in your address, and you’ll find out!

DO YOU WANT TO VOTE IN PERSON?

If you’re a traditionalist and you’d like to stand in line to vote (or a procrastinator who never asked for an absentee ballot), you’re in luck: You can still vote in person. The polls are open 7am to 8pm on Tuesday. Head on over to your polling place (which you can locate by using myvote.wi.gov).

Remember, you’ll need a photo ID when you vote in person. In most cases, your Wisconsin driver’s license will suffice. If you’re unsure if yours will work, or you’ve got some other form of state ID (such as a university, college, or military ID), you can get details at bringit.wi.gov.

DO YOU NEED TO REGISTER TO VOTE?

You’ll need to be registered to get your hands on a ballot. But, whether you’ve never voted before, just turned 18, or have moved since you last voted, you’re in luck: Wisconsin allows voters to register at the polls on Election Day. To register in person, you’ll need a proof of residence document to demonstrate that you live at your current address. Acceptable documents include a driver’s license, a property tax bill, a utility bill, a bank statement, a pay stub, or several other things. For a full list, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/ProofofResidence. Remember, you’ll also need a photo ID to vote (see above for details on that).

WHAT ABOUT SAFETY AT THE POLLS?

Because of COVID-19, polling places will practice the same kind of social distancing and sanitization processes that we’ve become accustomed to in other public places during the past year. While you’re not required to wear a face mask, you are strongly encouraged to do so. The Wisconsin Elections Commission created the following video to answer more of your questions:

COVID Safety while Voting In Person - Wisconsin Elections from Wisconsin Elections Commission on Vimeo.

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?

Bottom line, if you have a question about voting in Wisconsin, you’re likely to find the answer by going online to myvote.wi.gov or bringit.wi.gov. Good luck, and go vote!