Wisconsin barriers for college voting
On the day of the Wisconsin spring primary in February, Peter German was determined to vote.
In between strained breaths, German – a freshman from West Bend attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison – said he had run from building to building in an attempt to cast his ballot.
“I haven’t missed an election yet,” he said, “so I’ll be damned if I’m going to now.”
The previous day, he tried to register to vote at the Madison city clerk’s office with no luck. He lacked the required form of identification and documents under Wisconsin’s voter ID law, implemented in 2015, after a series of legal battles.
Election Day Feb. 18, he again could not vote, because he did not have a voter-compliant photo ID card. This sent German crisscrossing campus for nearly an hour, where he was finally able to cast his ballot – thanks to a freshly printed student voter card.
As German learned, for students living away from home, Wisconsin is one of the most difficult states in which to vote. Student IDs issued by state colleges and universities in Wisconsin, are not sufficient for voting, requiring students to go through additional hoops if they wish to vote using their college address.
Wisconsin’s roughly 340,000 college students make up 6.9 of the eligible voting population, according to the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University. That is a critical bloc in a state in which candidates have won by about 1 percentage point.