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UW–Madison to issue voter IDs to students who require them

November 21, 2011 By Greg Bump

University of Wisconsin–Madison students who do not have valid Wisconsin IDs will be issued a free supplemental identification card for voting purposes only, Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell has announced.

Students who are Wisconsin residents and have a state-issued driver’s license or identification cards are able to vote using those forms of identification and do not need the UW–Madison voter ID.

“As a campus, we strive to create not just good students but good citizens,” says Lori Berquam, dean of students. “By offering students an ID to use at the polls, we are helping them take the step to help create the future that they imagine.”

The cards will look much like the Wiscard IDs issued to students, but will be clearly marked “VOTER IDENTIFICATION.” The IDs include the student’s signature and expire two years from the issuance date in compliance with a new state law. UW–Madison student ID cards do not currently meet these requirements. The UW–Madison voter ID cards will not be valid for any other purpose or service on the campus.

The cards will be issued by the Wiscard office at Union South and will be available on Jan. 23, the first day of classes for the spring semester. The cost to the university of issuing the cards is estimated to be $100,000 over five years.

“Civic participation is an educational goal of UW–Madison and it’s our aim to make it as easy as possible for all students to learn to register and legally vote,” Bazzell says. “We encourage students to exercise their rights and take advantage of this opportunity.”

“It is crucial that students exercise their right to vote and we are appreciative that the university is providing compliant ID cards which will make it easier for students to do so under the new voter ID laws,” says Hannah Somers, chair of the Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs Committee.

Government Accountability Board staff informed UW officials that the new ID meets requirements passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker in the spring. The new law requires voters in Wisconsin to show photo identification at the polls. The first election in which the new requirements will be enforced is the Feb. 21 spring primary.

When using a UW–Madison issued voter ID card a separate state-issued Wisconsin ID, such as a driver’s license, is not required.

Students using the UW–Madison issued voter IDs are required to present proof of enrollment at the polls. The university has prepared a self-service enrollment verification form, which was approved by GAB staff, that will be available for students to print on demand from the Student Center in MyUW. All students may also use the form as proof of residence for voter registration.

More information on how the voter ID law affects students can be found here.

Students will continue to receive information about the new voter ID card through social media and public awareness campaigns. A website is under construction to provide UW–Madison students with information about the cards and voter registration ahead of the February primary.