Simplifying Voter Registration


Sam Kaufmann

For the past several months, I have received a number of questions from students on voter registration. How do we register to vote? Should we register? What are the deadlines? Can we vote if we turn 18 on Election Day? Is it safe to get an absentee ballot? Should I mail it or put it in the village/town drop box? 

Over the course of this article, I will be answering these questions and others, as well as underscoring the importance of voting. First off, if you can vote in this election and will be 18 by either Election Day this spring, do it and/or register if you haven’t yet. It’s your right and one of a few opportunities you have as a citizen to have a say in our government and its operations. 

Spring elections are especially important for local governments and issues that affect our local community. On this year’s ballots, you will find the Superintendent of Public Instruction (leader of the Wisconsin public school system), two school board races, and village or town board elections. The election will be held on April 6th.

In terms of voter registration, there are a variety of ways to do so. One way is heading online to Click the Register to Vote button. Enter your legal first and last name followed by your date of birth. Then click the red Register to Vote button. Wisconsin law requires a photo ID for voter registration. If you are registering online, you must either provide a driver’s license or state ID card. 

If you do not have either of these, a proof of residence document like a utility bill is required. If you do not have either of these ID cards, you can mail (or place in the village drop box) a Voter Registration Form. You’ll need to include a picture of your ID card or driver’s license as proof of residence. The deadline for both of these is three weeks before each election. 

If you will turn 18 after the deadline but before or on the day of the election, you can still turn in the form ahead of time with a printed photo of your ID. That way, you can request an absentee ballot or register ahead of time and avoid needing to go in-person to vote or register. Another option is heading in person to the clerk’s office to complete registration. That deadline is the Friday before the clerk’s business hours.

 In addition, you can register at the polls prior to voting on Election Day. When you register, make sure you are doing so with the correct municipality. There are seven different villages, towns, and cities that make up our school district, not just Waunakee. Check with your parents or enter your address on AccessDane to determine which one you live in. 

In terms of absentee ballots, you need to request one and be a registered voter. Go to and select Vote Absentee. Enter your complete first and last name, as well as your date of birth. If you are registered, a blue button will appear that says Request Absentee Ballot. Click the box that says you want a ballot for the elections this year only. Then select the April 6th, 2021 election. You will then need a picture of your photo ID (like a driver’s license). 

After that point, click the green finish button and your request will be submitted. Your ballot should arrive by mail within 3-5 days. I would recommend not returning your ballot by mail. Go to your village or town hall and place it in the drop box by the front doors.

 In Waunakee, there is a silver mailbox next to the Village Hall entrance to place your ballots in. If you want to vote absentee in person and avoid the Election Day polls, you can do so at Village Hall with the clerk. Business hours for voting at 7 am – 4:15 pm Monday-Friday. Check the village website (April 6, 2021 Election) for specific hours and dates. The hours for other municipalities may vary, so be sure to check the website of the one you reside in.

Overall, if you have the ability to vote in the April election, do so. Our democracy is dependent on its citizens using the right to select their representatives in government. Young people historically do not vote as much as the older generations. Let’s make an effort within our own community to buck that trend with this election.