Long lines at polling places on several college campuses during last week’s primary election had at least one thing in common: students who waited until the last minute to register to vote. Due to new voting laws in Wisconsin, college students who are already juggling classes, homework and jobs have their work cut out for them before they can fill in an election ballot. If they don’t figure out what documents they need until election day, they may show up at the polls to register without the proper photo ID or proof of current address. That can create bottlenecks in voting wards with high student turnout. Student leaders on campuses in Wisconsin and elsewhere are figuring out creative ways to build excitement around registering to vote. That could be the key to managing a heavy voter turnout on election day in November, when a new crop of freshmen and out-of-state students will be eligible to cast ballots, along with upperclassmen who tend to move often and will have to fill out change-of-address forms.
Under Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, out-of-state students who don’t have a valid Wisconsin driver’s license or passport must get a special voter ID issued by the university. That ID must be presented at the polls with another document verifying current enrollment/address from the registrar’s office that can be created through a campus website and printed or shown to a poll worker on a smartphone.
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Student Senate has a contract with TurboVote — an online “one stop shop” voter registration-engagement service created by Democracy Works. Students fill out voter registration forms online. TurboVote then mails paper copies of their completed forms, along with a stamped envelope addressed to local election officials. Students sign the form and attach the proper photo ID and proof of current address.
Social media, mass emails, poster campaigns and even chalk messages on sidewalks have been effective at getting students to register to vote, said Jake Wrasse, UW-Eau Claire student body president. “What we’ve learned over the past few years is students more and more are looking at diverse communications to get information. There’s no one magic bullet.” UW-Madison officials reported they generally did not have long lines at campus polling sites last week, although the day before the election a machine that creates and prints out student voter IDs was offline for four hours.
Full Article: Registering to vote holds challenges for college students.