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Make your plans to register and vote now

September 21, 2020

Official absentee ballot materials for the city of Madison. Photo: Jeff Miller

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, a perfect time for UW–Madison students to register to vote and make a plan for voting in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

With the pandemic creating physical distancing rules, many voters are expected to register remotely (online or by mail) and vote absentee (returning ballots at designated drop-off events/locations or by mail).

“It’s important to plan early this year, so you can register and cast your vote in plenty of time to have it count,” said Kathy Cramer, political science professor and chairwoman of BadgersVote, which coordinates UW–Madison’s voter education efforts. “We want to empower all students to cast their votes while also staying healthy.”

UW–Madison is again competing in the Big Ten Voting Challenge, a competition among the 14 member institutions to see which have the highest voter turnout and the biggest increase. In the 2018 midterm elections, UW–Madison placed second in turnout at 52.9 percent. Turnout in a presidential election year is typically higher.

Step One: Decide Where to Vote and Register

Students must choose whether they will vote in their hometowns or in Madison, and register accordingly. You can create a personalized registration and voting plan through the BadgersVote Interactive Voting Tool.

To check if you are registered or to register for the first time, you can check online ­at and register following the website’s prompts, if you have the proper identification.

Otherwise, students can fill out and print this form to register in Wisconsin by mail. Mail the completed form along with proof of residence to the appropriate municipal clerk before Oct. 14. In Madison, mail to: City Clerk’s Office, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Room 103, Madison, WI 53703.

Proof of residence simply verifies that you live where you plan to vote. You can use a voter enrollment verification letter or other easily accessible documents such as a current lease, bank statement or utility bill.

For those who are unable to register online or by mail, the Madison City Clerk will hold two in-person voter registration events Tuesday to mark National Voter Registration Day:

  • From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside Pres House on Library Mall; this event will repeat every Tuesday until Oct. 13.
  • From noon to 4 p.m. outside Ian’s Pizza, 100 State St.

Step Two: Check Your I.D.

If you have any one of these forms of I.D., you’re ready to vote: Wisconsin driver’s license, Wisconsin state ID, U.S. passport, U.S. Uniformed Services card, Veterans Affairs ID, tribal ID or Certificate of Naturalization.

If you don’t, get the free UW–Madison voter-compliant ID to use as voter identification. This is a free form of ID that is separate from your Wiscard.

Email from your email address, put “Voter ID Needed” in the subject line, and attach a picture of your Wiscard to the email to receive your voter-compliant ID.

You will receive a PDF of the voter-compliant ID, which you must print out and sign. (Need a printer? College Library has printing appointments available 1 to 5 p.m. daily)

You can then use your voter-compliant ID card and proof of residence to verify your identity when you vote. (Remember that you still need to be registered to vote – having the voter-compliant ID card is not the same as being registered.)

Step Three: Request an Absentee Ballot and Turn It In

Once you’re registered, you can request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. You will be prompted to upload a copy of your acceptable form of identification.

If you’re voting in Madison, you can return your absentee ballot at dropboxes and planned drop-off events at parks, libraries, fire stations, schools and elsewhere.

Or you can mail it in – the sooner, the better! The recommended mail-in deadline is Oct. 27.

Is There An In-Person Option?

Yes. You can vote in-person at in-person absentee voting locations starting two weeks before the election or at your designated polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

How Can I Learn More?

Visit and to sign up for text updates, text the word BadgersVote to the number 56525.

Tags: voting