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Election Day changes include earlier hours, pre-registration

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Polls in many Wisconsin municipalities will open earlier than ever before when residents go to vote Sept. 12.

All voters will be required to register, either ahead of time or at the polls. New touch-screen voting equipment with audio components will make it easier for people with disabilities to vote.

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These are three changes implemented by Wisconsin Act 333, which went into effect in April, and Act 451, signed by the governor in May.

Perhaps the most notable change, especially for people in rural areas, is uniform polling hours. Wisconsin law now requires all polls at every election to be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Many parts of Wisconsin did not have standardized voter registration before Jan. 1, but that is now required by federal law.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires voters to provide a state-issued driver's license if they have one. Those who don't have a driver's license may register by providing a state-issued identification card or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Proof of residence is required for voters registering less than 20 days prior to the election in voter's local clerk's office. The requirements are the same for first-time voters in Wisconsin who register by mail, hospitalized voters who have not registered and voters registering at the polling place.

Acceptable proof of residence documents include:

  • a driver's license,
  • a state ID,
  • an official card or license issued by an employer that contains a photo of the voter,
  • a residential lease,
  • a property tax bill or receipt from the current or preceding year,
  • a paycheck,
  • a bank statement,
  • a check or document issued by a Wisconsin government unit,
  • a utility bill no more than 90 days old, or
  • a university, college or technical college ID with a photo of the voter.

    Election Day registration is still available at the polls for Wisconsin voters, but voters are encouraged to register ahead of time.

    Federal law also requires that every polling place in the state have voting equipment that's accessible to people with disabilities. The new voting equipment is a touch-screen system and includes an audio component for the sight impaired.

    For more election information, go to the RiverTown Newspaper Group Vote 2006 Web site at www.rivertowns.net/vote2006

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