The best way to celebrate democracy is by encouraging full participation in the election process, which directly drives the issues and priorities that affect our daily lives. That’s why the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association and Wisconsin’s 25 electric cooperatives are supporting National Voter Registration Day on September 22.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 70 percent of eligible American citizens of voting age––18 and over––were registered to vote in 2018. Here in Wisconsin, we’re already ahead of that, with 81 percent of eligible voters registered as of July 1, 2020. But that still means we have work to do to make sure all voices are heard. In 2016 we only had 67.3 percent of registered voters go to the polls and vote, but that will be for another column in the future.
This election year is unique in many ways due to the pandemic, but registering and voting in Wisconsin is still very easy to do. You can easily register online in a matter of minutes at Myvote.wi.gov. This website is a great resource. You can actually find out which races and candidates are on your ballot so you can research local candidates. You can also find your polling place, update your name or address, and request an absentee ballot online.
While registering online will make it easier for you on election day, it’s not necessary. You can actually show up at your polling place on November 3 and register just prior to casting your ballot. You will need a photo ID, such as a valid Wisconsin Driver’s License or State ID Card, and proof of where you live, such as a utility bill or bank statement. If you are already registered, you will only need your photo ID.
If you forget your identification, you can still vote on election day. You will have until the end of election day to bring your documentation to the polling place for your vote to be counted.
This year, more than ever, people may be concerned about going to a busy polling place. If you aren’t comfortable voting in person this year, it is very easy to vote absentee (by mail). As I mentioned, requesting a ballot is easy to do at Myvote.wi.gov. Once you receive your ballot in the mail, be sure to follow instructions closely and mail it back in plenty of time to be counted.
The Challenge Ahead
This year there are 3,406,952 registered voters in Wisconsin, which represents 81 percent of the total voting age population. Improving on overall participation in the election process begins with registering as many eligible voters as possible. While our numbers are considerably higher (11 percent) than the rest of the country, we can still do better. The more people who register to vote, the more we can increase the likelihood of exceeding the 2016 turnout. The more we participate in the voting process, the more say we have in what happens in our hometown, state, and the nation we live in. Concern for Community, which is principle number 7 of the Seven Cooperative Principles, looks at sustainable development of our communities through policies accepted by our members. I encourage you to do your civic duty and make it a priority to register to vote on or before National Voter Registration Day this September 22.
Go to Myvote.wi.gov today and register to vote.