According to a survey from the University of Wisconsin, about 17,000 voters from the Dane County and Milwaukee County did not vote in the 2016 presidential election.
The two main researchers on the study were UW political science professor, Kenneth R. Mayer, and affiliate faculty of the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, Michael G. DeCrescenzo.
Researchers think the low voter turnout could be due to Wisconsin’s voter ID laws, which the survey reports caused confusion among viewers. The law states a voter must have a valid photo ID such as a drivers license, identification card, military ID or U.S. passport.
Wisconsin recently started accepting unexpired veterans cards from the Veterans Health Administration of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Wisconsin voting website also states the address on a voter’s license does not need to be up to date. It says the name on the ID does not have to exactly resemble the name used in the poll book, but your ID should look like you.
Laurel Noack, an ambassador with The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program — which is housed within the Morgridge Public Service Center — is hoping the organization Vote Everywhere will help voter turnout.
“Vote Everywhere is working on a petition letter for all the UW Systems schools to help combat voter ID laws which target students,” Noack said.
Associated Students of Madison outreach director, Yogev Ben-Yitschak, said ASM’s main goal with Voter Palooza is to encourage UW students to vote.
Voter Palooza is designed to help students vote by increasing their knowledge of voting and the voting process and showing them the power students can have in government. Overall, Voter Palooza hopes to create less confusion about voting obstacles like voter ID laws and eligibility.
Ben-Yitschak said ASM cannot technically register people to vote, so they will instead offer students the opportunity to vote if they want to.
“We are doing the first steps of registering to vote,” Ben-Yitschak said.
ASM plans on taking on the initiative by helping students through all the steps of voting, such as paperwork and making the voting process as easy as possible. Ben-Yitschak said about 10 to 15 volunteers will be available to students who wish to have more support in filing paperwork.
ASM will also provide an online registry to help students on Nov. 9, Ben-Yitschak said.
ASM is hoping to increase voter turnout from students to show students they can make a difference politically.
“All about that theme of student power,” Ben-Yitschak said.
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Voting, lobbying and student government is very important, Ben-Yitschak said. He added that it is also important to have legislators that support student rights.
Ben-Yitschak said a lot of legislators know many students do not vote. This allows them to push for policies that do not favor students. Ben-Yitschak said if ASM and other organizations help start the process of helping student register to vote, they will know they have the power to vote-out candidates they do not like.
Noack is hoping students will continue to vote in the future too. She wants to keep the voting process as easy as possible with new voting legislation for students.
“After ASM approval we hope to take this to other UW System institutions to sign on to protect the voting rights of students and those who do not have a Wisconsin Driver’s License or another form of Voter ID,” Noack said.
Noack said the Nov. 9th meeting will refresh those on the online voter registration system. It will also inform students and campus leaders on how to improve voting on campus through a discussion-based talk. Noack encourages anyone to join the conversation.
She said the goal of Vote Everywhere is to increase voter registration and turnout and increase participation in democracy.
“I choose to be involved in the voting processes of UW-Madison because I care that each student has the same opportunity to participate in democracy and let their voice be heard,” Noack said.