By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Earlier this week, the nation celebrated National Voter Registration Day. As the name suggests, the purpose of the day is to encourage eligible voters to register to vote – a pre-requirement when it comes to casting a ballot. Milwaukee officials used the day to encourage residents to not only check their registration but to create a voting plan.
To make it easy for Milwaukee residents, Wisconsin Voices held a voter registration drive-through at Miller Park from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22. As part of the event, Mayor Tom Barrett and other Milwaukee leaders held a press conference.
According to Barrett, 75% of eligible voters in the City of Milwaukee are registered to vote.
“Now of course the trick is to get them to vote,” Barrett said, adding that democracy is the ultimate participatory sport.
He urged residents to not only register to vote but to check their registration status. Even if someone thinks they registered, it’s better to check.
A voter’s name can be removed from the voter rolls if they haven’t voted for over four years, Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Election Commission for the City of Milwaukee, said. A voter who hasn’t voted in over four years will receive a postcard to the address under which they are registered. They are asked to mail it back to confirm their address. If they fail to do so, their name will be removed from the voter rolls.
Earlier this year, Wisconsin’s voter rolls came under fire after the Wisconsin Election Commission was asked to remove 200,000 names from its rolls. It was later brought before the court. With that in mind, even if someone is confident that they registered, it’s better to double check.
“Voting is sacred and it’s a right every voter has in this country,” Common Council President, Ald. Cavalier Johnson, said. “Use today to make sure you are registered to vote.”
Johnson likewise encouraged voters to create a voting plan. He explained that while his wife plans to vote absentee by mail, he plans to vote in-person on Election Day.
Peggy Creer, the president of the League of Women Voters, noted that voter turnout rate is high in Wisconsin, especially among boomers but considerably lower among millennials.
“We believe our democracy is strongest when all our voices are heard,” Creer said.
As a swing state, Wisconsin sees more political ads than most, Creer said. Campaigns are spending money to win your vote, because your vote matters, it is important, she said.
“I urge everyone to be an informed voter,” Creer said, explaining that individuals can learn about the candidates on their ballot by going to Vote 411.org, a partisan website created by the League of Women Voters Education Fund and designed to help inform voters.
Voter registration is now more important than ever, said Deborah Gary, the voter registration manager for Wisconsin Voices. The pandemic has changed the landscape, Gary said.
She added that Wisconsin Voices created the Wisconsin Voter app to help resident register.
To register to vote, check your registration status, request a ballot and more go to myvote.wi.org. A photo ID is required in Wisconsin to register to vote.