Student Voter Guide for Wisconsin’s 2018 Primary Election

Why primaries matter

Primary elections determine which candidates will appear on the November ballot for each of the two major political parties, and sometimes for third parties. So they’re your prime chance to choose the eventual candidates. Even if your first choice doesn’t win, your votes can also influence the stands of the candidates who do.

Primaries replaced a system where candidates were chosen by party leaders or participants in party caucuses. They more accurately reflect our democracy by letting the general public select the candidates.

The Importance of Mid-Terms

In November 2018, voters will participate in a mid-term election, or one held between presidential-election years. Mid-term elections can be an important opportunity to express support or dissatisfaction with a president’s performance and policies. 2018 primaries will include candidate nominations for 34 U.S. Senate seats, all 435 U.S. Representative seats, plus governors, other statewide officials, and state legislative seats.

Who can vote in a primary election?


You are eligible to vote in Wisconsin if you are a U.S. citizen, a resident of Wisconsin (includes out of state college students), live in the precinct where you vote for at least 28 days prior to the election, and are at least 18 years old by election day. Lawful permanent residents, commonly referred to as “green card holders” are not eligible to vote.

ID Requirements for registering – provide one of the following:

  • Student ID
  • Wisconsin driver’s license number
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • An alternative ID from the list on your state election website

ID requirements for voting

  • Same as for registering

How to register

In Wisconsin you can register by mail, in person at your election office, or at the polls on election day. See Key Resources on this page in the right sidebar for online access to registration forms.

Absentee ballots

Any registered voter can pick up an absentee ballot in person from your elections office or request that it be mailed to you. Absentee ballot request is also available online.

Address to use for registering & voting

Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state.   However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.

It’s your choice where to register, since registering at your campus address will not:

  • Affect your federal financial aid
  • Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
  • Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
  • Or affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student.

Additional information

For more detailed student voting guides, visit Campus Vote Project




  • July 30: Online and mail registration
  • Aug 10: In-person registration
  • Aug 14: registration at the polls is available
  • Aug 9: Online or mailed absentee ballot request received by election office
  • Aug 10: In-person absentee ballot request received by election office
  • Aug 14: Absentee ballot returned
  • Aug 14: Primary Election & absentee ballot returned



  • Open primary: all registered voters can choose which ballot to complete. This does not register the voter with that party.