Student voter turnout soars in 2018 Gubernatorial Election

Student voter ID numbers soar on campus during Tuesday election. 

Image By: Kaitlyn Veto and Kaitlyn Veto

The 2018 gubernatorial election results accounted for millions of votes across the country, with an especially high voter turnout in UW-Madison students.

Communications Specialist Xai Xiong said that of the eight total polling locations on campus, the voter turnout totaled 87 percent of those eligible to vote at these wards. Additionally, throughout the city of Madison, the pre-registered voter turnout totaled 92.9 percent.

The high student voter turnout was the main goal of the Big Ten Voter Challenge, encouraging students to prepare for election day by registering in a timely manner and keeping up to date with the voting schedule on campus.

Megan Miller, Assistant Director of Civic Engagement and Communications, spoke about the initiatives taken by the Big Ten Voting Challenge to increase student voting participation.

“The Big Ten Voting Challenge is a friendly competition between all of the Big Ten schools and each president or chancellor from every Big Ten school signed on to compete and participate in this challenge,” Miller said. “The idea is that a little bit of friendly competition would get people excited and interested to be engaged.”

Leading up to the pre-registration deadline on Oct. 17, the Big Ten Voting Challenge focused on encouraging students to register before election day, “because even though Wisconsin has same-day voter registration, it is certainly easier if you’re already registered,” Miller said.

Shifting the focus from registration to early voting, the challenge encouraged students to learn more about the candidates and take advantage of early voting opportunities. It also aimed to make the voting process more accessible for students, implementing voter ID printing machines at campus polling locations.

“On election day, we were able to work with different campus administrators and the Wiscard office to make sure that all seven of the on-campus polling locations had voter ID printing machines available, so if students were going to vote and they didn’t have their proper ID, they could get it printed on the spot.”

In addition to making the voting process more accessible, Miller also discussed the importance of higher education in encouraging students to be active in their community.

“In addition to preparing students who are at the university for jobs and for a life after graduation, there is also the public purposes of higher education, which are helping students prepare to be engaged citizens in whatever way makes the most sense to them,” said Miller. “We think that voting is part of that, so we want to make sure we have the tools and we are doing what we can as an institution of higher education to encourage students to be active citizens.”

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