In an effort to facilitate easy access to voting, the Madison City Council passed a resolution Tuesday evening expanding in-person absentee voting opportunities throughout the city.
With the approval of the resolution, 12 additional absentee voting locations will be established in the city in time for the 2017 spring primary.
A decision from a federal judge related to Wisconsin’s voter ID law gave cities the ability to establish more locations for absentee voting. Increasing the number of locations around the city and on the University of Wisconsin campus will increase voter turnout, Ald. Zach Wood, District 8, said.
Absentee voting has always been important to people, especially students, Wood said. As the Student Activities Center is one of the newer locations for absentee voting, Wood said it will be more convenient for students to cast an absentee ballot on campus.
With the establishment of these locations, Wood hopes overall voter turnout will increase.
“We want to expand opportunities for young people and all people to participate in their democracy,” Wood said.
Before last year’s ruling, the only location to cast an absentee ballot was the City County Building near the Capitol, Wood said.
While the resolution will still allow people to cast their absentee ballot at the City County Building, it also creates additional locations at the many branches of the Madison Public Library system, including the Central Library and Monroe Street neighborhood locations.
The February primary elections will be the first time these locations will be in place, Wood said. Most students will cast their ballots there as well in the general elections in April, he added.
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The results of the 2016 presidential election may also increase voter turnout at the local level, Wood said.
“I think there’s a lot of people who still have a very bitter taste in their mouth because of November and are committed to acting at the local level,” Wood said.