Get involved in the election process Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

We’ve been inundated with presidential election news for many months, but most of the activity has been happening in other states.

Soon the election process will get underway in Wisconsin. In our state, the spring primary election will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16. This primary is for nonpartisan state and local candidates.

The spring election and presidential preference vote (presidential primary) will be held on Tuesday, April 5.

Church encourages citizens to be involved

The Catholic Church has encouraged all citizens to be involved in civic life, including voting.

Our Wisconsin bishops have said in a 2014 letter on faithful citizenship, “Please exercise your fundamental right to vote, but equally important, become actively engaged in the life of your community.”

They added, “Bring to bear all the wisdom and experience that Catholic social teaching and your faith have to offer.”

Catholics are urged to treat others with respect, even if we disagree. Said the state bishops, “Let us enter the public square with a spirit of humility and with love for our fellow human beings, even and especially when we disagree with them. Though everything we do is incomplete, with God’s grace we are planting His seeds and building His kingdom.”

Voter photo ID is required

There is important new information for voters in Wisconsin. The February 16 primary is the first statewide election for which a photo ID is required.

The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the photo ID provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23. A photo ID is now required to receive a ballot in all special and regular elections. Learn more about photo ID and voting at

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) released a list of the top things voters need to know about the photo ID law. I’ve provided some of that information:

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 November 4, 2014:

• 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.

There are other IDs which can be used. Check the GAB website.

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 (DMV) 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 don’t wait until the last minute.

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

5. Be ready to “state it, show it, and sign it” at the polling place. Voters should have their photo IDs ready to show election workers. 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.

6. If you forget your photo ID on Election Day, you can get 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, visit or call 1-866-VOTE-WIS (8683-947).

In Wisconsin, all polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Be a faithful citizen and vote, starting on February 16.