Ten years ago this week, America first celebrated National Voter Registration Day. Last year the rate of voter registration doubled on this day, as community partners across the nation helped eligible voters ensure their names appeared on the voting rolls.
Throughout history, the right to vote has been hard-won. Since the days when only white men with property could vote, patriotic Americans have worked hard to expand the franchise. Their efforts have yielded more diverse perspectives in our governments and institutions.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Elections, Election Process Reform and Ethics, I care deeply about access to voting rights. Every American deserves the chance to have their voice heard, and it is my goal to make sure as many eligible voters in Senate District 31 and the state of Wisconsin can vote as possible.
This past session, my colleagues and I introduced legislation to make it easier for students to register to vote in high school. These bills would have put voter registration forms and nonpartisan voting resources in the hands of young adults at school.
Engaging our youth in the electoral process early boosts voter participation and engagement. High school students who are taught about registering to vote and encouraged to do so by teachers go on to vote at significantly higher rates than those who are not. Being taught about voter registration and the right to vote increases the likelihood that young people will become engaged in the political process, from registering others to pursuing political advocacy of their own.
Our last presidential election boasted the highest-ever turnout in the history of our nation. Unfortunately, debunked voter fraud allegations continue to erode the confidence in our election system. These tactics are not new. Measures like gerrymandering and voter ID laws have been tools used by the unscrupulous to dissuade voter turnout resulting in a certain political outcome.
America’s strength lies in its diversity. When the electorate includes varied perspectives, we all benefit. In the State Senate, I will continue to ensure all eligible Wisconsinites have access to the ballot box.
While Wisconsin does have same-day registration, I want to encourage you to register to vote ahead of time. This safeguards your access to the ballot and ensures that your vote will be deemed valid and counted.
To find out if you are registered or to register online, please visit https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/Register-To-Vote. This page will also help you get in touch with your local municipal clerk, who can answer questions about voting in your community.
The easiest and quickest way to register is online. In order to use Wisconsin’s online portal, you must have a valid and unexpired Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card. Please note that in order for your application to be accepted, your name and address must match the name and address on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you do not have a current Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card, you may complete the voter registration form and mail it or deliver it, along with proof of residency, to your municipal clerk’s office by the Friday before the election. You may also bring it with you to your polling place on Election Day.
If you need to update your name or your residential address, you may do that online at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/Update-My-Name-or-Address. Voters can register to vote before Election Day by mailing their voter registration form or complete the process online prior to October 19th, but voters can still register in-person at the polls until 8pm on Election Day.
Wisconsin voters can cast their ballot early in-person, or request that a ballot be mailed to them. To see the options in your community, please visit https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/Vote-Absentee-In-Person. Registered voters may request a mailed absentee ballot until November 3rd. Voters may request an absentee ballot for any reason in Wisconsin. Voting early and making sure you are registered to vote gives you peace of mind and checks one more thing off your to-do list for November 8th.