No later than 30 days before each election, the governing body of any municipality may by resolution combine 2 or more wards for voting purposes to facilitate using a common polling place. Whenever wards are so combined, the original ward numbers shall continue to be utilized for all official purposes. Except as otherwise authorized under this paragraph, every municipality having a population of 35,000 or more shall maintain separate returns for each ward so combined. In municipalities having a population of 35,000 or more, the governing body may provide in a resolution that returns for any ward having a population of 20 or less be combined with returns for any adjacent ward, if the total population of the combined wards does not exceed the applicable population range under sub. (2) (b)
for wards in that municipality. In municipalities having a population of less than 35,000, the governing body may provide in the resolution that returns shall be maintained only for each group of combined wards at any election. Whenever a governing body provides that returns shall be maintained only for combined wards under this paragraph, the municipality shall report separate results for each separate ballot required under ss. 5.58
. The municipal clerk shall transmit a copy of the resolution to the county clerk of each county in which the municipality is contained. In municipalities having a population of less than 35,000, the resolution shall remain in effect for each election until modified or rescinded, or until a new division is made under this section. Whenever needed for purposes of this paragraph, the municipal clerk shall determine the population of each ward in his or her municipality. If the population of a ward cannot be determined from census results, the clerk shall determine the population of the smallest unit encompassing the entire ward that can be determined from census results. The clerk shall then divide the land area of the ward by the land area of that unit. The clerk shall then multiply that result by the population of the unit to determine the population of the ward for purposes of this paragraph.
If a new municipality is created or if part of a municipality is annexed to a city or village during a decennial period after April 1 of the year of the federal decennial census, the governing body of any municipality to which territory is attached or from which territory is detached, without regard to the time provisions of sub. (1) (b)
, may, by ordinance or resolution, create new wards or adjust the existing wards in that municipality to the extent required to reflect the change. If a municipality is consolidated with another municipality during a decennial period after April 1 of the year of the federal decennial census, the governing body of the consolidated municipality, without regard to the time provisions under sub. (1) (b)
, may, by ordinance or resolution, create new wards or adjust the existing wards of the municipality to the extent required to reflect the change. No ward line adjustment under this subsection may cross the boundary of a congressional, assembly, or supervisory district. Within 5 days after adoption of the ordinance or resolution, the municipal clerk shall transmit copies of the ordinance or resolution making the adjustment to the county clerk in compliance with sub. (4) (b)
Until divided, all elections are held in the established wards.
History: 1971 c. 304
, 29 (2)
; 1977 c. 26
; 1979 c. 260
; 1981 c. 4
; 1981 c. 314
; 1983 a. 29
; 1983 a. 484
; 1983 a. 538
; 1985 a. 304
; 1987 a. 391
; 1991 a. 5
; 1993 a. 213
; 1995 a. 201
; 1999 a. 182
; 2005 a. 149
; 2011 a. 39
; 2013 a. 155
; 2015 a. 55
; 2017 a. 360
Judicial relief is available if a county fails to follow the statutory requirements for redistricting. City of Janesville v. County of Rock, 107 Wis. 2d 187
, 319 N.W.2d 891
(Ct. App. 1982).
The court properly voided the city's plan and adopted the county's plan, even though the county did not adopt the plan within 60 days of receiving census data. County of La Crosse v. City of La Crosse, 108 Wis. 2d 560
, 322 N.W.2d 531
(Ct. App. 1982).
Enforcement of division requirement.
If any municipality fails to comply with s. 5.15
, the county in which the municipality is located or any elector of the municipality may submit to the circuit court for any county in which the municipality is located within 14 days from the expiration of the 60-day period under s. 5.15 (1) (b)
a proposed plan for the division of the municipality into wards in compliance with this section. If the circuit court finds that the existing division of the municipality into wards fails to comply with s. 5.15
, it shall review the plan submitted by the petitioner and after reasonable notice to the municipality may promulgate the plan, or any other plan in compliance with s. 5.15
, as a temporary ward plan for the municipality to remain in effect until superseded by a ward plan enacted or adopted by the governing body in compliance with s. 5.15
History: 1985 a. 304
; 2011 a. 39
Polling places. 5.25(1)(1)
All elections under chs. 5
shall be held at the polling places provided in this section. The places chosen shall be public buildings, unless the use of a public building for this purpose is impracticable or the use of a nonpublic building better serves the needs of the electorate, as determined by the authority charged with the responsibility for establishing polling places under sub. (2)
In cities over 500,000 population, polling shall be at the places established by the board of election commissioners. In all other cities and in villages and towns, polling shall be at the places established by the governing body.
Polling places shall be established for each election at least 30 days before the election.
Each polling place shall be accessible to all individuals with disabilities. The commission shall ensure that the voting system used at each polling place will permit all individuals with disabilities to vote without the need for assistance and with the same degree of privacy that is accorded to nondisabled electors voting at the same polling place. This paragraph does not apply to any individual who is disqualified from voting under s. 6.03 (1) (a)
In any jurisdiction that is subject to the requirement under 42 USC 1973aa-1a
to provide voting materials in any language other than English, the commission shall ensure that the voting system used at each polling place in that jurisdiction is in compliance with 42 USC 1973aa-1a
No later than June 30 of each odd-numbered year, the commission shall submit a report on impediments to voting faced by elderly and handicapped individuals to the appropriate standing committees of the legislature under s. 13.172 (3)
. In preparing its report under this paragraph, the commission shall consult with appropriate advocacy groups representing the elderly and handicapped populations.
Except as authorized in par. (b)
, all electors within a ward shall vote at the same polling place.
The municipal clerk or board of election commissioners of a municipality in which an elderly or handicapped elector resides may reassign the elector to a polling place within the municipality other than the polling place serving the elector's residence in order to permit the elector to utilize a polling place that is accessible to elderly or handicapped individuals.
The electors of more than one ward in the same municipality may vote at a single polling place.
Polling place requirements. 5.35(1)(1)
On election days, every polling place shall properly display the national flag during all hours the polls are open.
There shall be one voting booth for every 200 electors who voted at the last general election. The booths shall have a surface on which to write or work and be sufficiently enclosed to assure privacy for the elector and anyone lawfully assisting the elector while marking the elector's ballot.
Where the voting procedure makes it necessary, there shall be a separate ballot box for each form of ballot at each polling place. There shall be a suitable lock and key for each, and an opening no larger than is sufficient to receive a single ballot or a single folded ballot if the box is used for deposit of paper ballots. If the electors of more than one ward use the same polling place, there shall be separate ballot boxes provided for the electors of each ward, unless combined ballot boxes are authorized in accordance with s. 5.15 (6) (b)
All voting booths and machines shall be placed apart from other activities in the polling place, with their exteriors in full view of the election officials. Only the proper election officials, persons observing the proceedings under s. 7.41
, persons assisting voters under s. 6.82 (2)
and electors receiving, preparing or depositing their ballots or casting their votes on the machines are permitted in the voting area. Except where assistance is authorized, only one elector at a time is permitted in a voting booth or machine.
No polling place may be situated so as to interfere with or distract election officials from carrying out their duties. The municipal clerk and election inspectors shall prevent interference with and distraction of electors at polling places.
At each polling place in the state, the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners shall post the following materials, positioned so that they may be readily observed by electors entering the polling place or waiting in line to vote:
The relevant portions of the voting instructions in the type B notice for the election as specified in s. 10.02 (3)
and, for each referendum on the ballot, the text of the type C notice specified in s. 10.01 (2) (c)
A copy of the election fraud laws provided in s. 12.13 (1)
and (3) (intro)
, and (x)
, together with the applicable penalties provided in s. 12.60 (1)
General information prescribed by the commission on federal laws relating to election fraud and misrepresentation in federal elections.
The date of the election and the hours during which the polling place is open.
Instructions prescribed by the commission for electors for whom proof of identification is required under s. 6.79 (2)
or for whom proof of residence under s. 6.34
is required under s. 6.55 (2)
General information prescribed by the commission concerning voting rights under applicable state and federal laws, including the method of redress for any alleged violations of those rights.
Any other voting information directed to be posted by the commission.
At each polling place in the state where a consolidated ballot under s. 5.655
is used or an electronic voting system is utilized at a partisan primary election incorporating a ballot upon which electors may mark votes for candidates of more than one recognized political party, the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners shall prominently post a sign in the form prescribed by the commission warning electors in substance that on any ballot with votes cast for candidates of more than one recognized political party, no votes cast for any candidates for partisan office will be counted unless a preference for a party is made. If the elector designates a preference, only votes cast for candidates of that preference will be counted.
At each polling place located in a municipality that is served by more than one polling place for an election, the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners shall prominently post a map of the geographic area served by the polling place for that election. The posting shall clearly show the boundaries of the ward or wards served by the polling place for that election.
Notice of voting by individuals with disabilities.
Any individual with a disability may notify a municipal clerk that he or she intends to vote at a polling place on election day and may request that a specific type of accommodation be provided that will facilitate his or her voting.
History: 2003 a. 265
Voting machine requirements. 5.37(1)(1)
Voting machines shall give every elector a reasonable opportunity to vote for any person for any office and on any proposition the elector is entitled to vote on, assure privacy to the elector so no one will know how the elector is voting or has voted, preclude the electors from voting for persons or propositions upon which they are not entitled to vote and from voting more than once for the same office or on the same proposition. Voting machines shall be constructed to lock so they cannot be manipulated, tampered with, or show the number of votes registered for any candidate or proposition while voting is in progress. The machines shall permit voting a split ticket and shall record each vote cast.
When 2 or more wards or aldermanic districts are joined to use a voting machine, under s. 5.15 (6) (b)
, the machine shall be constructed to allow the electors to vote for all nominated candidates and issues for their aldermanic district or ward, but for no other.
For presidential electors one device shall be provided to vote for all of one party's electoral candidates at the same time. The device shall be opposite or adjacent to the names of the party's candidates for president and vice president.
Voting machines may be used at primary elections when they comply with subs. (1)
and the following provisions: All candidates' names entitled to appear on the ballots at the primary shall appear on the machine; the elector cannot vote for candidates of more than one party, whenever the restriction applies; the elector may secretly select the party for which he or she wishes to vote; the elector may vote for as many candidates for each office as he or she is lawfully entitled to vote for, but no more.
Polling places may have more than one voting machine.
Use of voting machines or systems. 5.40(1)(1)
Except as permitted in sub. (3)
or as required in subs. (4)
, the governing body or board of election commissioners of every municipality with a population of 10,000 or more before July 1, 1995, or of 7,500 or more thereafter shall require the use of voting machines or electronic voting systems in every ward in the municipality at every election. Any other governing body or board of election commissioners may adopt and purchase voting machines or electronic voting systems for use in any ward in the municipality at any election.
Only voting machines complying with s. 5.37
or electronic voting systems approved under s. 5.91
may be used in an election in this state.
Notwithstanding sub. (1)
, any municipality may elect to utilize paper ballots and voting booths instead of voting machines or an electronic voting system:
For any territory which is included in a portion of a congressional district, legislative district, county supervisory district, school district, technical college district, sewerage district or sanitary district contained within the municipality for so long as the number of electors residing in the territory does not exceed 100.
Whenever the municipality is precluded under s. 7.23 (2)
from clearing the recorders on a sufficient number of voting machines to serve the electors at the election.
Whenever the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners reassigns an elector to a polling place other than the one serving the elector's residence under s. 5.25 (5) (b)
Notwithstanding sub. (1)
, a municipality which utilizes voting machines at a polling place shall not utilize a voting machine to receive the ballot of an elector who receives assistance under s. 6.82 (1) (a)
or whose vote is challenged under ss. 6.92
A municipality which utilizes voting machines at a polling place shall not utilize the machines to receive the vote of an elector who declares to the chief inspector that, due to physical disability, the elector is unable to depress a button or lever on a machine.
Notwithstanding sub. (1)
, the governing body of a municipality which uses voting machines or an electronic voting system may petition the commission for permission to use paper ballots and voting booths for a specific election, and the commission may grant such a request.
A municipality which utilizes voting machines or an electronic voting system at a polling place may permit use of the machines or system by electors voting under s. 6.15
only as authorized under s. 6.15 (3)
Whenever a municipality adopts and purchases voting machines or an electronic voting system, or adopts and purchases a different type of voting machine or electronic voting system from the type it was previously using, the municipal clerk or executive director of the municipal board of election commissioners shall promptly notify the county clerk or executive director of the county board of election commissioners and the administrator of the elections commission in writing.
General provisions. 5.51(1)(1)
The type face used on all paper ballots shall be easy to read.
The paper used for ballots shall be 35 pounds per ream for sheets 24 inches by 36 inches. If a different size sheet is used, the weight per ream shall be proportioned accordingly, but shall meet this standard. This subsection does not apply to ballots used with electronic voting systems.
All paper ballots shall be of sufficient width and length to provide space for all matter required to be printed on them. Except on ballots used with electronic voting systems, all ballot columns shall be separated by lines at least one-eighth inch in width.
No stickers may be placed on a ballot by election officials except under s. 7.37 (6)
. Any other stickers applied by them shall not be counted.
Each official ballot shall be printed on paper of uniform color. Different colors shall be used to distinguish office and referendum ballots and different colors may be used to distinguish separate ballots for different offices. Sample ballots shall be printed on a different color paper than the official ballots, and need not have the endorsement and certificate.
All candidates' names for the same office shall be placed, projected or composed on the ballot in the same size, style and color of type. The style and size of type shall conform substantially to the official ballot forms prescribed by the commission under s. 7.08 (1) (a)
In partisan primary elections, all ballots shall be of uniform color and size, and the same type of paper shall be used for all ballots.
Unless otherwise specifically provided, the form of all ballots shall conform to the ballot forms prescribed by the commission under s. 7.08 (1) (a)
If more than one individual is to be elected to the same office from the same jurisdiction or district, the ballot shall provide at the top of the column or to the right of the row for that office: “Vote for not more than .... candidates.".
History: 1985 a. 304
Voting machine ballots. 5.53(1)(1)
Voting machine ballots shall be placed, projected or composed on a board or screen inside the machine, under s. 5.64
and may be arranged in either columns or rows. The type face shall be easy to read, and the type size may be no smaller than 8 point.
Where separate ballots are provided for, the names or questions shall be placed in separate columns or rows upon the machines so they are voted on separately, except as otherwise provided for referenda under s. 5.64 (2) (c)
Notice to electors.
Every ballot, except a voting machine ballot, shall bear substantially the following information on the face: “Notice to electors:
This ballot may be invalid unless initialed by 2 election inspectors. If cast as an absentee ballot, the ballot must bear the initials of the municipal clerk or deputy clerk."
On every ballot, except a voting machine ballot, shall be printed “Official .... Ballot" or “Official .... Ballot for ...." followed by the designation of the polling place for which the ballot has been prepared, the date of the election, and the official endorsement and blank certificates. The number of the ward or wards or aldermanic district, if any, and the name of the municipality may be omitted in printing and stamped or written on the ballots at any location which is clearly visible at the option of the county clerk. Printed information and initials shall appear on the back and outside of the ballot.
Multiple columns and rows.
Whenever the number of candidates for any office requires the use of more than one row or column on a voting machine or whenever the official or agency having the responsibility to determine ballot positions determines that the number of candidates for an office requires the use of more than one column on a ballot, the official or agency having such responsibility shall require that the rows or columns be rotated in such a manner that all rows are positioned on top, or all columns are positioned to the left, in an equal number of wards or election districts. If the number of wards and election districts in which voting for an office is conducted is not equally divisible, the position of the rows or columns in the remaining wards or election districts shall be determined by the official or agency by the drawing of lots. The number of columns or rows shall be determined at the same time that the positions of the candidates' names are determined for each primary and election.
History: 1981 c. 377
Spring primary ballots. 5.58(1a)(1a)
At spring primary elections the ballots under subs. (1b)
, when necessary, shall be provided for each ward, except as authorized in s. 5.655
. Only nonpartisan candidates nominated for office by nomination papers shall have their names placed on the official spring primary ballot under the proper office designation, but the ballots shall allow room for write-in candidates.