ASM sees success in promoting campus voter turnout

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

As the push for election engagement wrapped up Tuesday night, Associated Students of Madison leaders assessed the efforts they made to encourage voting across the campus community.

For ASM Vote Coordinator Billy Welsh, a rewarding aspect of the months-long experience he has had with the election process is just how many students have already cast their ballots.

“The narrative is that college students are either too lazy to vote, too apathetic to vote, especially this election cycle—it’s so polarizing, there are even lower expectations for turnout,” Welsh explained. “So I think it’s really cool to see students who not only took the initiative to register to vote, but took initiative and actually voted early.”

Approximately 4,000 students voted early at the Student Activity Center—a location ASM fought to claim for that purpose in order to have more than one campus spot for early voting, Welsh said. He added that numbers at the school’s other location, Union South, seemed comparable early -on.

Before early voting began, Welsh said members of ASM have been at work since bus pass handouts in August to register students, many of whom needed to re-register after an address change. Each member of Student Council received training to become a Special Registration Deputy, and after that deadline closed, he said the body had registered about 3,400 voters.

The group also organized several large-scale events in locations such aslike East Campus Mall and Witte Residence Hall to register students.

“We’ve had a lot of people who have been superstars with working so many voter registration shifts, really setting up with early -vote, being super enthusiastic,” Welsh said.

And in addition to planning beforehand, student government officials also had a hand in Election Day itself. Some received the opportunity to work at the polls Tuesday.

The group fought to station voter ID machines at all campus voter locations—and university spokesperson Meredith McGlone said the school had already issued 6,486 voter ID cards as of Monday.

“It was kind of frustrating that we didn’t have this onat early vote at early vote,” Welsh said. “But, at least we got it on Election Day.”

Welsh called the process a “whirlwind,” but said he thinks ASM’s efforts to encourage voters across campus have gone “really well.”

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