Madison's April 3 election saw an increase in the number of absentee ballots cast, according to figures from the city clerk's office.
Of the 9,800 absentee ballots the clerk sent to residents, city clerk records showed nearly 8,200 were filled out and returned.
"I'm really thrilled that so many folks, particularly students away on spring break, took advantage of voting early before they left town," said Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4. "Obviously, the 8th District City Council seat was decided by absentee ballots — very few people voted on Election Day in the 8th District."
Verveer attributed much of this absentee ballot increase to efforts made by the city clerk and University of Wisconsin officials that he helped coordinate. To encourage students to vote before leaving for spring break, which conflicted with the spring election for the first time in recent history, the city clerk held extended hours to accommodate student schedules.
UW also made sure all students living in residence halls received an absentee ballot application with information about voter registration and paid for shuttle buses to and from the clerk's office.
"I'm very pleased, of course, that both the city clerk's office and the university administration stepped up to the plate and did what they could to help facilitate greater access to absentee ballots by students," Verveer said.
Student organizations, including the College Democrats, also played a role in the increase in absentee ballot requests with their Vote Naked campaign.
While these numbers are encouraging for a spring election, the numbers also show that approximately 1,600 absentee ballots were wasted.
"It's unfortunate, but I guess understandable," Verveer said. "I'm not shocked that a number of absentee ballots that were requested never ended up being cast and returned to the city clerk's office."
In the April 3 election, Verveer ran unopposed for his aldermanic seat. UW sophomore Eli Judge won the vacant District 8 seat currently held by City Council President Austin King.