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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Students flock to polling booths for early absentee voting

Early absentee voting for the 2022 midterm elections is in full swing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and voting stations have been buzzing with students and poll workers. 

“Early absentee voting is great because it’s at your leisure, and you can avoid any lines or scheduling conflict,” said Laine Bottemiller, a member of BadgersVote.

Early absentee voting has become increasingly popular since the onset of the Covid pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. In 2020, 69% of voters voted non-traditionally — mail-in or before election day — with 43% of voters casting ballots through the mail, according to the United States Census Bureau

“I am super busy this semester, and early voting fits into my schedule way better,” Olivia Miller, a student at UW-Madison, told The Daily Cardinal. “Plus, this way, I can avoid wasting time in all the lines on Election Day.” 

For some students, early absentee voting was a matter of convenience, and for others, a matter of happenstance. 

“Honestly, it was kind of simple. I just saw the sign and thought, ‘Oh, I can early vote now. Great, let's do it,'” UW-Madison student Kyle Estrada said. 

Students aren’t actually ‘voting’ during early absentee voting. They are just placing their filled out ballot into a sealed envelope to be mailed to the clerk’s office, and those ballots will be opened and counted on Election Day, according to poll worker Leslie Schroedor.

Regardless of what brought students to vote early, they have been showing up in droves, according to Schroedor.

“My expectations for turnout were set high and we have met them,” she said. “We have had a steady line and been consistently busy all day.” 

Schroedor’s experience is not unique, given that Memorial Union has been one of the most popular absentee early voting locations on campus. 

“I have worked a couple of different sites before today, and this has been the far busiest,” poll worker Kathy Shurts said. 

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Some students take advantage of early voting by registering to vote for the first time in the state of Wisconsin. 

“I wanted to register here because I am from California, so I know that my voting power in Wisconsin is a lot higher,” UW-Madison student Ella Bartlette said. “The right to abortion being limited was the biggest motivator bringing me out here today.” 

Bartlette was not alone in her eagerness to cast her vote early.

“It was very important to me to vote this year. A lot of people’s rights are on the line, including mine,” Estrada said. “We live in a democracy that requires participation. I hate when people complain about the state of politics and then don’t end up voting.”

Schroedor believes these early absentee voting stations are making participation in democracy more accessible to everyone. 

“This is about wanting to make the opportunity to vote more widely available,” she said. “Here we are able to make it easiest for students to vote. We meet them where they are already at, hanging around these student unions.”

Early absentee voting will be provided on campus on weekdays Oct. 25 to Nov. 4 at Memorial Union and Union South from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will also be available at Eagle Heights Community Center Oct. 28 to Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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