GAB Approves Electronic Voter Registration

The Government Accountability Board (GAB) voted unanimously to allow people to show electronic documents displayed on electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and laptops to prove they meet Wisconsin residency requirements when registering to vote.

When people register on Election Day, they must provide an identifying document to prove residency before they can vote. The same is true when they register in their municipal clerk’s office less than 20 days before an election. Most people use a driver license or state ID card if their address is current. People who have moved can use many other documents for proof of residence, including a property tax bill, current lease, bank statement, utility bill or other government document that includes their full name and current address.

Previously, the staff of the Government Accountability Board interpreted the state law to require that a proof of residence document must be a paper record. The Board was asked to consider accepting electronic documents as proof of residence because many voters now receive most bills and correspondence electronically and may not have ready access to a printer.

The GAB looked at the state’s election law, Wis. Stat. §6.34(2), which said that new voters must “provide identifying documents.” They concluded that the question of ‘what is a document’ was less dependent on the form it took—whether paper or on a screen—than the veracity of the information on it.

The Board did clarify in its decision that municipalities are not required to provide computers or internet access so people can show electronic documents.