5 Questions Before You Can Vote

Tom Giffey |

1. Am I eligible?

In case you’ve been living in a Wi-Fi free cave for the past year and didn’t hear the news, Election Day – that’s Tuesday, Nov. 8 – is almost upon us. So are you eligible to vote? Here’s a civics class refresher: You have to be at least 18 years old by Election Day; you must be a U.S. citizen; you must not be serving a sentence for a felony; and you must have lived at your current address for at least 10 consecutive days before Election Day. If you said “yes” to all that, good news – you can vote!

2. Am I registered?

Maybe you’ve moved since the last election. Maybe you haven’t voted for a while but are motivated to do so this time around. Good for you! The easiest way to find out if you’re registered is by visiting myvote.wi.gov and clicking on “Register to Vote.” Plug in your name and date of birth, and you’ll quickly discover if you’re registered and – if so – at which address. If you find that you’re not registered – or you’re registered at the wrong address – just click on the appropriate button and the website will walk you through the registration process.

3. Where do I vote?

To locate your polling place, visit that same helpful website mentioned above – myvote.wi.gov – and click on “Find My Polling Place.” Type in your street address, city, and ZIP Code, then click on “Search,” and you’ll discover where the friendly poll workers are waiting with your ballot. On Election Day, the polls are open between 7am and 8pm. If you just can’t wait until then, city of Eau Claire residents can vote early via absentee ballots by stopping in the elections office on the ground floor of City Hall (203 S. Farwell St.) between 8am and 5pm on weekdays through Nov. 4.

4. What I.D. do I need?

Wisconsin’s on-again, off-again voter I.D. law, first passed in 2011, is once again in force (thanks to a federal appeals court that found it constitutional), which means that you’ll need photo identification at the polls. That can mean a Wisconsin driver’s license, a Wisconsin DOT-issued I.D. card, a military I.D. card, a U.S. passport, an I.D. card issued by a Native American tribe, a university or college I.D. (as long as you’ve got a separate document proves your enrollment), or one of several other documents. Go to bringitwisconsin.com for full details.

5. Who am I voting for?

Beyond Hillary Clifton and Ronald Trump (we’re pretty sure we go those two names right), you’ll see lots of other folks on the ballot, including contenders for U.S. Senate and House, state Senate and Assembly, and a number of county-level offices (plus, if you’re in the Eau Claire school district, a budget referendum). You can see a sample ballot by going to myvote.wi.gov and selecting “What’s On My Ballot.” Get informed, then get to the polls!