The City of Madison is celebrating National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 28 by offering voter registration drives and encouraging citizens to register and exercise their democratic rights.

The City Clerk’s office partnered with organizations in the community, including Urban League of Madison, United Way of Dane County, Madison Public Libraries and the BadgersVote Coalition at the University of Wisconsin, according to the City of Madison webpage.

National Voter Registration Day started in 2012 and is designed to encourage American citizens to register to vote, according to the City of Madison website. The nonpartisan event grants individuals the opportunity to register at events nationwide and online.

In the 2020 election, one in four Americans were not registered to vote in the 2020 election. Over 600,000 people who did not vote cited a registration issue as their reasoning for not going to the polls.

The gap in voter registration is even more glaring among younger generations. The Knight Foundation found in a 2020 study 42% of voters ages 18 to 24 were not registered to vote, with many citing issues like forgetting or not knowing how as their reasoning.

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“I think [registration is] super important for students because becoming politically and democratically engaged at a young age sets the stage for continued activism and involvement throughout your life,” Campus Vote Project intern Caroline Robson said in an interview with the Morgridge Center.

In an interview for The Capital Times, City Clerk Maribeth Witzel Behl said the day is a good opportunity for people to take a moment and check their voter registration status.

In collaboration with community organizations, the city of Madison has set up voter registration drives all across the city, making it easy for the citizens to register to vote or check their registration status before the next election on Feb. 15, 2022, according to the Cap Times. 

In response to National Voter Registration Day, UW will provide five locations where students and community members can go to register, according to the Morgridge Center.

These locations are outside of Engineering Mall, Library Mall, the UW Madison South Partnership, Union South and the Health Sciences Learning Center Atrium. All locations are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Though it’s not a major election year, National Voter Registration Day gives individuals an opportunity to register and receive assistance so it does not feel like an overwhelming process, according to BadgersVote.

The next gubernatorial election will take place in November 2022 and there will be other elections on the ballot this spring.