Campaign Restrictions


Wisconsin Statute 11.30
Every communication that is paid for by political funds must contain a disclaimer or attribution statement identifying the source of the funds paying for the communication. This includes every printed advertisement, billboard, handbill, sample ballot, television or radio advertisement or other communication paid for by political funds.

Disclaimers should be included on each separate page of a political communication, including stickers and yard signs. The disclaimer must use the words “paid for by” (abbreviations should not be used for this language), followed by the name of the committee or group making the payment or assuming responsibility for the communication, and the name of the treasurer or other authorized agent.

When the communication is being paid for through an in-kind contribution, it must bear the disclaimer of the recipient campaign committee. Abbreviations may not be used for the name of a candidate or campaign committee.

No disclaimer is required on:

  • Personal correspondence not reproduced by machine for distribution
  • A single personal item not reproduced or manufactured by machine or other equipment
  • Nomination papers, even if the papers contain biographical information
  • Pins, buttons, pens, balloons (small items on which disclaimer cannot be conveniently printed)
  • Envelopes that have campaign committee identification printed on them

Formats for Disclaimers

  • When a communication is paid for by a candidate without a committee, or paid for by an individual, the disclaimer should read, “Paid for by Mary Smith.”
  • When the communication is paid for by the campaign committee of a candidate or by a political committee, the disclaimer should read, “Paid for by Friends of Mary Smith for Mayor, John Jones, Treasurer,” or “Paid for by the Committee for Voters, John Jones, Treasurer.”

Campaign Signs

It is a violation of Madison’s sign ordinance to place campaign signs in the public right-of-way. The public right-of-way includes the street and the terrace (area between the sidewalk and the street). When sidewalks are not present, the terrace extends 15 feet from the curb into the adjoining property.

Signs should not be placed in the median strip of boulevards or displayed on posts, trees, or other supports in any public street.

Please instruct your campaign committees and other volunteers to obey the law. Non-compliance with this ordinance may result in the issuance of citations with civil forfeitures from $30 to $500, plus costs.

Election Day Campaign Restrictions

Wisconsin Statutes 12.03 & 12.04
State Statute12.03 prohibits electioneering on public property within 100 feet of any entrance to a building that serves as a polling place. This prohibition does not apply to private property within 100 feet of an entrance to a polling place. All polling places, even those located at private businesses, are considered public property on Election Day.

Election Observers

Any member of the public other than a candidate may be present at any polling place to observe an election. Observers must register with the Chief Inspector. Observers may not address the voters or interfere with the election process. Observers may not wear campaign buttons or campaign shirts, and are not permitted to hand out campaign literature within the polling place. Electioneering is prohibited within 100 feet of any entrance to a building where voting takes place.

Candidates may not hang out at a polling place where their name is on the ballot, even if they are unopposed.

The Chief Inspector will provide only one warning to election observers who engage in loud, boisterous, or disruptive behavior that, in the opinion of the Chief Inspector, threatens the orderly conduct of the election or interferes with the voting process. If the observer does not stop the offending conduct, the Chief Inspector will instruct the observer to leave the polling place. If the observer refuses to leave, the Chief Inspector will call the police to have the observer removed from the polling place.

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