Top Things Voters Need to Know about Photo ID

MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board today released its list of the top things voters need to know about the photo ID law.

1.    Most people already have the photo ID they need to vote.

You can use any of these five IDs, even if they expired after the most recent General Election (currently November 8, 2016):

  • A Wisconsin DOT-issued driver license, even if driving privileges are revoked or suspended
  • A Wisconsin DOT-issued identification card
  • A Wisconsin DOT-issued identification card or driver license without a photo issued under the religious exemption
  • Military ID card issued by a U.S. uniformed service
  • A U.S. passport book or card

You can use any of these IDs, but they must be unexpired:

  • A certificate of naturalization that was issued not earlier than two years before the date of an election at which it is presented
  • A driving receipt issued by Wisconsin DOT (valid for 45 days)
  • An identification card receipt issued by Wisconsin DOT (valid for 45 days)
  • An ID Petition Process receipt issued by Wisconsin DOT (valid for 180 days)
  • An identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin
  • A photo identification card issued by an accredited university, college or technical college in Wisconsin that contains the signature of student, the date the card was issued, and an expiration date no later than two years after date of issuance.  Also, the university, college or technical college ID must be accompanied by a separate document that proves current enrollment such as an enrollment verification letter, class schedule, or tuition fee receipt.
  • A citation or notice of intent to revoke or suspend a Wisconsin DOT-issued driver license that is dated within 60 days of the date of the election.

2.    If you don’t have one of these IDs, you can get a free state ID card to vote even if you don’t have your birth certificate.

In 2014, the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles started a new program to help people who don’t have copies of their birth certificates to get a state ID card.  Just bring the documents you have to your local DMV office. They can track down your birth records in Wisconsin or another state, but it may take some time so don’t wait until the last minute. People who enter the ID Petition Process will receive a receipt that is valid for 180 days, which they can use for voting, after just one trip to the DMV. 

3.    Your photo ID doesn’t need to have your current address.

Some people think they need to get a new driver license or state ID card to vote if it has an old address, but that’s not correct.  The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles doesn’t require drivers to get a new license every time they move, and neither does state elections law.  The photo ID law requires registered voters to prove their identity before getting a ballot.  Anyone registered to vote has already proved Wisconsin residency.

4.    There are significant exceptions to the law for those who have difficulty getting to the polls.

Unlike regular absentee voters, permanent absentee voters who have difficulty getting to the polls due to age, illness, infirmity or disability are not required to provide a copy of their photo ID to get a ballot.  The person who witnesses and signs the absentee ballot envelope verifies the voter’s identity.  

The same is true for active-duty military who vote absentee – they do not need to provide a copy of their photo ID to get a ballot.

5.    Be ready to “State it, show it and sign it” at the polling place.

To save time at the polling place, voters should have their photo IDs ready to show election workers, but that’s not the only thing you have to do to receive a ballot.  Wisconsin law requires voters to state their name and address so the election workers and observers can hear it.   After the election worker finds your name in the poll book and checks your ID, you will be asked to sign the poll book next to your name.  Just remember:  State it.  Show it. Sign it.

6.    If you forget your photo ID on Election Day, you can get a provisional ballot.

Don’t worry if you get to the polls on Election Day, look for your ID and find you forgot to bring it.  Just ask the election worker for a provisional ballot.  You can return to the polling place before it closes at 8 p.m. with your ID, or bring your ID to your municipal clerk’s office by 4 p.m. the Friday after the election in order for your ballot to be counted.

For a more information about Wisconsin’s voter photo ID law, including the list of acceptable IDs for voting, visit our website:, or call 1-866-VOTE-WIS.