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Stay up to date on voting regulations

By Olivia Mercer
On February 21, 2012

With elections coming up, it is crucial that we, college students, begin to think and assess those running for the presidential office.  However, because we are all of voting age, we must be sure that we are fully educated about a number of things prior to making a decision on that crucial voting ballot.  Thankfully for us, UW-La Crosse students; voting occurs right on our campus in the Recreation Center.  

For those of you who have a.) never voted before (don't be embarrassed) or b.) have recently turned 18 and this will be your first time voting, as of 2006, Wisconsin requires individuals to register for voting prior to actually completing the action of placing a vote.  In addition to, the "Help America Vote 2002 Act", all individuals who are registering to vote provide their valid Wisconsin Department of Transportation- issued driver's license number.  So what happens if you do not have a driver's license?  Simple!  Either provide the last four digits of your social security number or Wisconsin State ID card number.  When registering to vote, individuals may either register the day of, in person, or fax/email/telephone their information the Friday before the election day.  

"Anyone wishing to vote in the state of Wisconsin has three options to register," according to the State of Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "by mail, in person, or at the polling place on election day."  If registering to vote by mail, you may access the application at http://gab.wi.gov/forms/gab-131-english-fillable.  "PLEASE NOTE:  State and federal law now requires that any first-time voter submitting a registration application by mail provide a copy of an acceptable identifying document that provides proof of residence. Please note that first-time voters who register by mail may not use a residential lease as proof of residence. The copy of the form of proof of residence must be included when submitting the registration application.  If a copy of proof of residence is not included, the elector will be required to supply it before being issued a ballot at the polling place or before being issued an absentee ballot in the municipal clerk's office."  Similarly, if registering the day of the voting, one must showcase valid proof of residency.  According to the State of Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the following 11 items would count as sufficient proof of residency:  "A current and valid Wisconsin driver license, a current and valid Wisconsin identification card, any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit, any identification card issued by an employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the card holder, but not including a business card, a real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election, a residential lease which is effective for a period that includes election day (NOT for first-time voters registering by mail), a university, college or technical institute identification card (must include photo), ONLY if the bearer provides a fee receipt dated within the last nine months or the institution provides a certified housing list to the municipal clerk, a gas, electric or telephone service statement (utility bill) for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before election day, bank statement, paycheck, or a check or other document issued by a unit of government."  

In addition, new in 2012, voters in Wisconsin are required to present a photo ID when voting.  "The purpose of the photo ID is to verify the identity of the voter," said the State of Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.  Though this law is particularly new to Wisconsin, it may seem redundant to many of us.  Why?  Because most W2 forms, ACT/SAT tests, or other standardized testing, or voting situations, generally require individuals to supply adequate forms of identification, including a photo ID requirement.  For more questions about the new law and what constitutes as an appropriate form of a photo ID, please visit: http://gab.wi.gov/taxonomy/term/135.  

On a personal level, I can attest to this being one of my more straight forward, less opinion based articles of the semester.  But, understanding the requirements for voting and voting registration is exceptionally important in our day in age. We can all gladly agree with how embarrassing it would be if one showed up without all of the required identification when trying to register to vote.  Thus, it is imperative that we college students are not only educated upon our presidential candidates but also upon how to register to vote.


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