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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Few issues reported in UW-Madison’s first election with voter ID

Despite fears of long lines and unprepared voters, for the most part UW-Madison’s first major election under the state’s new voter ID laws went smoothly.

The state’s flagship public university was spared hour-plus wait times that existed at colleges elsewhere in Wisconsin, including Marquette University and UW-Green Bay.

Nate Moll, social media specialist for UW-Madison Communications, attributed the lack of problems to a robust campaign designed to inform students of what they needed to vote. The initiative spanned numerous university departments, including the housing and student life divisions.

“We’re not only trying to get community members to be engaged academically but also to be good citizens,” Moll said outside the Red Gym polling location, where he worked as a poll worker.

Moll said the use of social media was especially crucial in spreading the message to as many students as possible.

“Social media has become more of a modus operandi,” he said. “Now students are using social media as a primary source of information. And we realize that.”

Out-of-state students, who had to obtain a voting ID card or use a passport to vote, had mixed reviews of the new system.

Louise Lyle, a sophomore from Maine, said she encountered no issues and that the university did a good job making students aware of requirements.

“I was expecting it to be a lot worse,” Lyle said, noting she got her voter ID card from Gordon Dining and Event Center on election day.

However, senior Garrett Payne of Illinois said he was unaware of the new law. After registering to vote and waiting in line at his polling place, he was told his out-of-state driver’s license would not be sufficient to cast his ballot.

While Payne was frustrated, he said the new law made him even more motivated to secure a voter ID card and eventually vote.

“It is important to me [to vote] and I feel like they’re inhibiting me and I’m trying not to take my vote with me,” Payne said. “It makes me want to vote more.”

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University issues nearly 4,000 IDs

UW-Madison’s efforts to provide students with voter identification cards were largely successful, according to a university press release.

The university provided 3,846 voter ID cards to students throughout the spring and 1,272 on election day alone, according to UW-Madison’s Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone. ID printing was offered at Gordon’s and Union South on election day.

Voter IDs were largely provided to out-of-state students voting in Wisconsin. This was the first election in Wisconsin the controversial voter ID law took effect.

Tuesday marked the highest turnout for a Wisconsin presidential primary since 1972, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. McGlone said UW-Madison was pleased with its ability to provide students with voter IDs.

“This really was a very unusual presidential primary with very high turnout,” she said. “The Wiscard folks did a great job keeping up.”

Although a printer glitch prevented IDs from being printed at Gordon’s for four hours Monday, McGlone said the university “did not encounter any major delays issuing IDs.”

UW-Madison is expecting high student turnout for the general election in November, and McGlone encouraged students to get identification cards early to ensure they are able to vote.

“Plan ahead,” she urged. “Register to vote in advance.”

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