Casting your vote: where, when, and how

This semester has been bizarre to say the least, with most students trading in-person lectures for virtual ones. Yet Badgers all across campus and the world have kept on top of their responsibilities. They’ve managed to make the best of UW’s strangest semester to date. But as you schedule your online labs and chart out your assignments for the week, there’s one more thing that you should make time for: voting. While it may not tire you out like running and probably won’t make your muscles sore, voting is as much a part of wellness as diet and exercise. It’s your chance to make your voice heard and have an impact on your nation and community. But like most things nowadays, voting is surrounded by questions. Will the polls be safe? How do I get to a polling location, and when should I arrive? Will I be casting my vote electronically? 

Where Do I Go to Vote?

Let’s start with one of the most common questions students have about on-campus voting:  where exactly do you go to cast your vote, and when? Absentee voting, which allows you to get ahead of the curve and vote early, will be available on-campus through both mail-in and in-person. Ballot drop off sites are distributed throughout campus prior to Election Day – just stop by anytime and drop your ballot in. If you have yet to mail in your ballot, we recommend using these boxes as the USPS is not guaranteeing the ballot will arrive at their destination before November 3. If you’re voting on-campus make sure that you’re registered to vote at your campus address. 

In-Person Absentee Polling locations include:

  • Memorial Union
  • Union South 
  • East Campus Mall

These polling locations will be open for absentee voting from 11am – 6pm October 20 through October 30. You can find more information on absentee voting here. Election Day voting will take place at various polling locations across campus from 6am-8pm on November 3. 

How CAn I Be Safe at the Polls?

If you plan on voting in-person, you’re probably wondering how safety will be handled at the polls come Election Day. The state of Wisconsin has implemented a series of protocols aimed at keeping you and your fellow Badgers safe while you cast your votes. Masks, 6-foot physical distancing, and hand sanitizer use are all strongly recommended. For voters who are considered to be high-risk, it is recommended that you choose to vote curbside or mail-in.

What Will My Experience at the Polls Look Like?

When you arrive at your polling location, you’ll first be asked if you’ve experienced symptoms of, or have recently been exposed to somebody with COVID-19. You’ll then be asked to sanitize your hands, after which you will be directed to state your name, address, and show valid identification. A poll worker will then either provide you with a ballot and direct you to an open polling booth or simply direct you to an accessible voting machine. All voting machines and booths will be thoroughly sanitized by poll workers throughout the day. Whether or not you’ll be voting electronically depends on your polling location, but in either case, the process will be safe and accessible.

How Can I Get to the Polls?

If you don’t have a way to get to your polling location several resources are available to assist you. 

  • Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are offering free or reduced-price rides to polling locations with select offer codes. 
  • Organizations such as Carpool Vote offer free carpooling services. 
  • Madison BCycle is offering free 60-min electric bicycle rides on Election Day with promo code 110320. Just visit a BCycle kiosk on campus or go online to claim your ride. 
  • You could always walk or run to your polling location –  exercising your body and your right to vote!