Frequently Asked Questions
Forms of Acceptable Photo ID for Voting Purposes
Q: Can I use any identification card with my photo on it to vote?
A: No. There is specific list of acceptable forms of photo ID you may use in order to vote in Wisconsin. Many Wisconsinites already have one of these IDs and if you do not, you may get a free ID for voting purposes from the DMV. View the complete list of acceptable photo IDs at www.gotidwisconsin.org in the blue “WHAT YOU NEED” section.
Q: My photo ID doesn’t have my current address on it. Is it still acceptable?
A: Yes. Your photo ID does NOT need to have your current address; your ID is required only to verify that you are who you say you are. (However, if your address on your photo ID is current and you need to register to vote, you may use your it to prove your residency when you submit your voter registration application –but if not, you may use other forms of proof of residency to register.)
Q: My driver’s license or other photo ID is expired. Is it acceptable?
A: In some cases. An expired WI driver’s license, WI ID card, Military ID ( Veteran ID card), or US passport book/card will be accepted if expired as long as it didn’t expire more than two years ago. Expiration dates from November 8, 2016 to the present are acceptable. All other photo IDs must be unexpired.
Q: My driving privileges have been suspended or revoked. Is my Wisconsin driver’s license still acceptable?
A: Yes, as long as your driver’s license meets validity requirements. To be valid for voting purposes, your Wisconsin driver’s license must be unexpired or, if expired, expired after November 6, 2012. Out of state driver’s licenses are not acceptable for voting purposes.
Q: Can I use my student ID to vote?
A: Maybe. A student ID must have the following information on the card to be accepted:
- Name (reasonably matching your voter registration – ex. Jill/Jillian is okay)
- Date of Issue
- Expiration Date (no more than 2 years from issuance)
Voters using a student ID will also need to bring proof of current enrollment, such as your current class schedule or tuition fee receipt. If your student ID doesn’t meet all 5 requirements, ask your Dean of Students office or click here because UW schools and other colleges are issuing voter IDs to students who need one.
Q: Are there student IDs which are not acceptable for voting?
A: Yes, many student IDs are not acceptable in their current form. However, many schools are issuing IDs to students who need one for voting purpose. It’s important to note that this will not replace your existing student ID – it will be a specialized student voter ID. If you are student with an out of state driver’s license and form of acceptable photo ID for voting, it’s important you receive one from your university. Check if your student ID is acceptable by clicking here.
Q: Why do students have to bring a student ID and proof of enrollment?
A: The photo ID law is written requiring both a photo ID and proof of current enrollment from students using their school ID to vote. For more information on getting acceptable proof of enrollment document, click here.
Getting an Acceptable Photo ID
Q: I don’t have any of the acceptable forms of photo ID. What do I do?
A: The Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles will issue you a FREE Wisconsin ID card for voting purposes. See the next question for instructions on getting one or visit www.gotidwisconsin.org and read the green “HOW TO GET IT” section. If you are currently enrolled as a college student, your campus may be able to issue you a free student voter ID. This is especially important for students who hold an out-of-state driver’s license who do not want to lose their driving privileges by applying for a Wisconsin ID card. Find out if your campus is providing free IDs for voting purposes here.
Q: I heard I could get a free ID card for voting. How do I get one?
A: You can get a FREE voter identification card from a Wisconsin DMV Service Center in THREE easy steps!
STEP 1: Find the closest DMV and the days/times it is open Find a service center by visiting https://trust.dot.state.wi.us/cscfinder/cscsearch.do or calling (608) 264-7447. Hours vary by location so be sure to check the hours before going to the DMV!
STEP 2: Collect the documents you need to apply for an ID card In order to get an ID card to vote, you will need to bring documents proving your identity and that you are a U.S. Citizen and Wisconsin resident. Check out www.gotidwisconsin.org in the green “HOW TO GET IT” section for a complete list of documents you may use as proof.
STEP 3: Take your documents to the DMV and apply in person
At the office, you will:
- Fill out the Wisconsin Identification Card Application.
- Check the “ID for FREE” box under item #4.
- Be sure to fill out your application completely or it will not be processed.
- Take a number and, when called, present the DMV staff with your application + documents.
- Get your picture taken.
- Sign your name on the signature pad.
NOTE: Most applicants will leave the DMV with a paper receipt. Your receipt is a valid form of ID for 45 days and will be accepted as proof of ID when you cast your ballot as long as it is still valid – the expiration date is printed in bold on the receipt. You should receive your ID card in the mail within 14 business days. If you don’t, you can contact the DMV by calling (608) 266-2353.
Q: Is there a service providing free rides to the DMV so I can get my ID card?
A: Yes, in Milwaukee. If you need a ride or want information about ride services in other areas, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I don’t have a birth certificate or any other proof of citizenship documents. Can I still get a free Wisconsin ID card for voting?
A: Yes. If you have had a Wisconsin ID card or driver’s license in the last 8 years, you must only provide proof of identity and Wisconsin residency. If this is not the case, you are still be able to get a free ID if you do not have it in your possession or cannot reasonably access it, if you would need to pay to obtain a certified copy of it, or if no birth certificate exists for you whatsoever. You will need to know basic information about your birth (hospital of birth, parents’ names, etc.) and ask for form MV3012 when you arrive at the DMV. You’ll submit this along with your ID card application, proof of residency and proof of identity. The DMV will contact your home state to verify that information is accurate and mail your ID to you once it’s confirmed.
Q: I was born in Milwaukee County and I heard that I could get a FREE birth certificate in order to apply for a free photo ID for voting. How do I do that?
A: If you were born in Milwaukee County before November 4, 1996, currently live in Milwaukee County and have never before had a Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card, you are eligible for a free birth record. When applying for your birth certificate in-person or by mail, you must complete a request for a free birth record, a birth certificate application, and provide 2 forms of secondary identification. For complete instructions or questions, visit the Milwaukee County Vital Records Department website.
Q: I went to the DMV to get my free ID card and I was denied. What do I do now?
A: If the reason you were turned away is because you didn’t have the proper documentation, please visit www.gotidwisconsin.org to see a complete list of documents you can use in the green “HOW TO GET IT” section. If you run into any other problems getting your free ID from DMV, we urge you to complete this survey to provide us information about your experience, and someone from the Wisconsin ACLU will be in touch with you to provide legal support.
Q: I lost my Wisconsin driver’s license or identification card. Can I get a replacement free for the purpose of voting?
A: Replacing your Wisconsin driver’s license costs $14. However, Wisconsin ID cards are available for FREE for voting purposes. In either case, you may apply for a duplicate driver’s license or duplicate ID card at a DMV service center near you or online. NOTE: You may NOT apply for a Wisconsin ID card if you already have a valid, unexpired Wisconsin driver’s license.
Q: I have an out-of-state driver’s license. Is my driver’s license still valid if I apply for a free WI ID card?
A: No. When you apply for a Wisconsin ID card, the DMV will invalidate your out-of-state driver’s license or any out-of-state ID card you hold. If you do not have any of the acceptable forms of photo ID and it is an extreme hardship for you to lose your driving privileges, please contact the ACLU via email immediately.
Voting Absentee: In-Person or by Mail
Q: Do I need to provide a photo ID if I vote by mail?
A: Yes. You should submit a copy of your photo ID with your absentee ballot application. Your municipal clerk will not send you a ballot until they have received your photo ID. Exceptions:
- You are a military, overseas, indefinitely confined, or confidential voter.
- You returned your absentee ballot postmarked on or before the deadline AND you provided your WI driver’s license/ID card as proof of residency when you registered to vote. That copy of your WI license or ID on file must meet the requirements for the photo ID law (unexpired or expired Nov. 7 2012 to present day).
If you did not provide a copy of your photo ID, then your clerk is required to contact you in writing notifying you that your ballot will not be counted unless you submit it in-person, by mail, email, or fax.
Q: I’m confined to my home or live in a care facility. Do I need to show a photo ID to vote?
A: No, but you may if you’d like. Voters who identify as “indefinitely confined” because of age, illness, infirmity, or disability are exempt from providing photo ID if you apply for an absentee ballot to be mailed to you. When you mail your absentee ballot back to your municipal clerk, you may simply have a witness sign the special ballot envelope instead of sending a copy of your photo ID. All other mail-in absentee voters are required to mail a copy of their photo ID (except military, overseas, and confidential voters). Follow these 2 easy steps: 1. Enroll as a mail-in absentee voter, indicating that you are “indefinitely confined”. If you have not already requested a mail-in absentee ballot from your municipal clerk, here’s the form. You’ll want to mark item 6 as “indefinitely confined.”. You have until October 30th to request an absentee ballot. The clerk will mark you as “indefinitely confined” in the absentee ballot log, ensuring you won’t need to submit a photo ID. 2. Have a witness sign the envelope you’ll use to return the ballot. Once you receive the ballot, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted. When you return your ballot, you’ll need to have a witness sign the “Absentee Certificate Envelope” (which will be sent to you with his absentee ballot) in the section called “CERTIFICATE OF WITNESS.” If a witness does not sign, his ballot will not be counted! If you need support filling out the absentee ballot request form (GAB-121, link above) or the envelope swearing that you are an eligible voter (GAB-122, it will look like this), you may have an assistant sign for you on both of the forms and sign that they were an assistant. The assistant can also act as the witness on the envelope.
Showing My Photo ID: Working with Elections Staff
Q: Are all voters required to show photo ID when voting?
A: No. There are 4 types of voters exempt from showing a photo ID to cast a ballot in Wisconsin. Military and overseas voters, indefinitely confined voters, and confidential voters. If you are not in one of these categories, you are required to show an acceptable photo ID in order to be issued a ballot.
Q: I’ve been voting for years without a photo ID. Why do I need one now?
A: A a photo ID requirement is in effect in the State of Wisconsin.
Q: What will happen if I don’t have acceptable ID?
A: For registered voters who forget to bring or don’t have an acceptable form of photo ID, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot and then show your photo ID later — either at your polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day or your municipal clerk’s office. If you are unable to provide a photo ID, your ballot will not be counted. *Note for voters registering at the polls: if you do not have acceptable Proof of Residence (POR), voters in the past have not been allowed to register to vote.
Q: My appearance has changed since my photo ID was issued. Will it be accepted?
A: Your photo must reasonably resemble you. We understand there are circumstances (such as transition surgery, aging, hormone therapy, weight loss/gain, or illness) which may significantly change a voter’s appearance. Got ID Wisconsin? suggests that concerned voters may opt to vote early (either in person or by mail) in order to ensure a more highly trained elections staffer checks your ID and that you have as much time as possible to have your ID photo re-taken in the event your ID is rejected. If you encounter any problems with your acceptable and legitimate photo ID, please contact the ACLU at email@example.com or call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
Q: My municipal clerk or Chief Elections Inspector won’t accept my photo ID but I know it’s valid. What do I do now?
A: If you’re registered to vote, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot and then show your photo ID later — either at your polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day or your municipal clerk’s office. This gives you time to get the photo ID you need and seek legal counsel (if necessary). If you are unable to provide a photo ID by the Friday after the Election, your ballot will not be counted. If you encounter any problems with your acceptable and legitimate photo ID, please contact the ACLU via email or call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. *Note for voters registering at the polls: if you do not have acceptable proof of residence, voters in the past have not been allowed to register to vote.