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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008

Voting Guide

ENDORSEMENTS 2008

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Turnout for November’s presidential election should be historic. But making history can also be confusing, as many new or infrequent voters show up at the polls, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Here are some tips about registering and voting on or before Tuesday, Nov. 4:

  • Are you eligible? On Nov. 4, will you be 18 years old or older? Are you a U.S. citizen? If you’ve committed a felony, have you served your entire sentence, probation and/or parole? On Nov. 4, will you have been a resident of the state of Wisconsin for at least 10 days? If so, you can both register and vote in Wisconsin on Nov. 4.
  • Check your registration status before Nov. 4. The state has implemented a voter database at vpa.wi.gov. (If you don’t have Internet access, call your municipal clerk or local election commission.) If you are registered to vote but you aren’t in the system, or if your personal record contains errors, contact your municipal clerk and correct it. If you live in the city of Milwaukee, contact the Milwaukee Election Commission at 286-3491. The voter database will also provide the location of your polling place, which may have changed since you last voted.
  • Re-register if you haven’t voted for many years or if you have moved or changed your name since you last voted. If you haven’t voted since 2003, you probably need to re-register. And if you have changed your name or moved since the last time you voted—even if you moved within the city limits—you must register at your current address.
  • Register before Election Day. You can register to vote before Nov. 3 at your local municipal clerk’s office or election office.Registration forms can be accessed at elections.state.wi.us.
    When you register to vote, you must provide your valid Wisconsin driver’s license number or state-issued ID number.Your ID must show your current name and address and be valid on Election Day. If you don’t have a driver’s license or state ID, you can provide the last four digits of your Social Security number. If your driver’s license or ID does not have your current name and address, then you must show a document proving your residence—such as a utility bill with your correct address.
  • Vote early with an absentee ballot. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 30. You can request an absentee ballot by going to elections.state.wi.us and clicking on “voter information” and “voters’ frequently asked questions” or by calling your municipal clerk or election commission. Ballots must be returned in person or by mail by Nov. 4. City of Milwaukee voters can cast an in-person absentee ballot through Nov. 3 at the Zeidler Municipal Building. (If you are registered, go to the entrance at 830 N. Market St. If you are not registered, go to the 841 N. Broadway entrance. Go to www.milwaukee.gov/election for hours of operation.) Voters living in other municipalities should contact their municipal clerks for instructions.
  • Be prepared at the polls. Don’t take anything for granted if you haven’t confirmed your registration status. It doesn’t hurt to take your ID and a document proving your residence—such as a utility bill—to the polls just in case you have been taken off the voter rolls. If you are eligible to vote but you’re not on the voter list, you can register at the polling place if you have proper identification.
  • Be cool. Yes, you can wear your favorite Obama T-shirt or McCain button to the polls. But you can’t hand out campaign literature or try to influence other voters within 100 feet of a polling place.
  • Contact the authorities. If you feel that you’re being intimidated, see anything unusual at your polling place or have received suspect campaign information, speak up. Each polling site will have election officials to correct problems on Election Day. You can also call the Milwaukee County Election Fraud hot line at 935-1234. (Before that date, call 278-4645.)