Here are some questions and answers from the most recent webinar and live training sessions. Questions may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If someone isn't sure that their absentee ballot will get to the polls in time to be counted, can they vote a provisional ballot?
No. There are only two reasons we can issue a provisional ballot. 1. Someone is registered to vote but does not show an acceptable form of voter ID. 2. Someone is registering to vote on Election Day and shows proof of their address. They have a current and valid Wisconsin driver license but are unwilling or unable to write down that driver license number on the voter registration form.
If a person is registering to vote at the polls, I understand that a paper credit card account statement can be used as proof of address. Can a person show an account statement on their smart phone?
Yes. Any type of proof of address can be shown electronically on a smart phone, laptop, or tablet.
What if the voter refuses to state their name? We had this happen in August.
Unless the voter is listed on the confidential voter page at the back of the poll book, the voter's name and address must be stated. If the voter whispers or writes down their name or address, the poll workers need to state it loud enough for the election observers to hear. This even applies if you personally know the voter. The requirement to state your name and address is found in Wisconsin Statute 6.79.
What if the voter has a driver license but from a different district, and they moved into a new district?
The address on the ID does not matter. If the voter is showing a Wisconsin driver license with an expiration date after 11/8/2016, it is acceptable. We don't even look at the address on the ID when the voter is proving their identity.
If a voter with a disability needs physical assistance, are poll workers allowed to assist?
Yes, you can provide assistance if a voter requests assistance. Here are some common sense and common courtesy guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
What is “residency”? What is a “permanent resident”?
Even though the words are similar, these are two very different things. “Residency” means “where does the voter live?” The voter proves this with a document when registering to vote. Some voters might have a different mailing address outside the city, but they are “residents” of Madison if they have lived here for 10 days before the election.
“Permanent Residents” are non-citizens who may legally remain in the US permanently. Sometimes this is called having a “green card.” Non-citizens are not allowed to vote.
Is active shooter training mandatory? Does it fulfill the training requirement?
No. Active shooter training is optional. It does not fulfill the training requirement to work at the polls.
If you work as a poll worker, when do you have time to vote?
If you are working at your own polling place, you can vote during your shift whenever there is time. If you are working a double shift at a different polling place, you should vote absentee.
In the last newsletter, you talked about not giving compliments. We have sometimes congratulated first-time voters. Is this appropriate?
The best practice is to celebrate/congratulate if only the voter shares that with you (e.g. “It’s my first election” or “I just became a citizen”). Otherwise, we wouldn't want to pry or point it out. An voter who is older than 18 and who has never voted before might be embarrassed about that fact. If someone was disenfranchised for a felony conviction before they were able to vote, drawing attention to their status as a first-time voter might reveal information to their neighbors they don’t want known.
Why is it important not to pre-initial ballots?
If two ballots stick together and we mistakenly hand two ballots to a voter, only one of those ballots should be "live" (initialed by two inspectors). If someone were to insert two ballots into the tabulator, we would be able to identify which ballot had not been legitimately issued because it would not have two sets of election official initials.
What is a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot Certificate?
An absentee certificate is what you see on the outside of an absentee envelope. It lists the voter's name, address, and ward.
The voter signs a certification on the envelope. This certification states that they are eligible to vote from this address, they marked their ballot in the presence of a witness, they marked the ballot by themselves (or with the help of a person from whom they requested assistance), and their ballot is sealed in the envelope.
The voter's witness signs a certification on the envelope. They are certifying that they are an adult U.S. citizen, they did not solicit or advise the voter in marking the ballot, and the name and address of the voter are correct.
A Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot Certificate is the absentee certificate for a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.
At the last election, the ID checker refused to return the voter's ID until the voter signed the poll book. Is this the correct procedure?
No. The official should hand the ID back to the voter after verifying that it is an acceptable form of ID, the expiration date is acceptable for that form of ID, the photo reasonably resembles the voter, and the name of the ID reasonably conforms to the name stated by the voter and found on the poll book.
I worked at a polling place with two wards that had only a single poll book table. Poll books for both wards were at that table. Officials checked one set of poll books and then the other to find each voter's name. Is this legal?
This is legal, but not very efficient. Unless one of the wards is very small (50 or fewer voters), it should have its own poll book table.
You are processing absentee ballots and checking the absentee voters into the poll book. If a voter comes into the polling place, should you step aside and let them get processed, or can you finish checking the absentees into the poll book?
Finish checking the absentees into the poll book. We are checking in three absentee voters at a time, so you should be able to finish quickly. When we stop in the middle of a process, we are more likely to make mistakes. And, if we abruptly stop processing absentees in the presence of a voter, that could raise suspicions for the voter. You offer greater transparency by finishing the process of checking those three absentee voters into the poll book.
What happens in the case of overvoted ballots? Does the tabulator detect this and show a screen?
Yes, the tabulator gives the voter the option to return the ballot or cast the ballot with errors.
What do we do with the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB)?
Process any FWABs at the end of the night. If you have already processed an absentee ballot for this overseas or military voter, that means their back-up ballot (FWAB) is not needed. Reject the FWAB and place it in your rejected absentee envelope.
If you have not already processed an absentee for a FWAB voter, that means their official ballot did not make it through the mailing process in time to be counted. Process the FAWB as the voter's absentee ballot, remaking the ballot onto an official ballot to be fed into the tabulator.
Do voters get to choose whether to vote with a paper ballot or with the ExpressVote machine?
Yes, they do.
It would be helpful to have the ballot marking instructions as signage on Election Day.
You will find this sign in your red Election Day signage folder.
Are you matching up the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots (FWAB) and official ballots at City Hall?
No, we aren't. We are sending everything to the polls. On Election Day, any absentee envelopes with a certificate labeled "Voter Information" would be a FWAB. Process these envelopes last, at the end of the night. If the voter has already been assigned an absentee voter number, their FWAB can be rejected.
Is the second election official for registrations required?
The state doesn't require this. The second set of eyes on each registration is a City of Madison policy. If you have election official no shows on Election Day and are too short staffed for this, please call the Clerk's Office.
Why have a second registration official at the ballot table (or poll book table)?
We get a lot of calls on Election Day from voters who researched voter ID before registering to vote at the polls, and are convinced that officials were picking on them by making them show a second document such as a lease or utility bill. They are confusing proof of address with proof of identity. We want to completely separate the proof of address and proof of identity processes to minimize confusion for the voter.