The League of Women Voters Wisconsin is reporting it has received more than 100 phone calls as of 2 p.m. from college students who are indicating they’re having trouble voting in Tuesday’s recall election.
“It’s a significant issue out there,” says Carolyn Castore, who is coordinating the League of Women’s Voters Wisconsin/Election Protection initiative. “We’re getting all sorts of odd stuff.”
Some of the more common problems for students, reports Castore, are related to hassles over proof of residency and apparent misinterpretations of the state’s relatively new voter ID law that was enacted last year and requires one to establish residency at a given address for 28 days in order to be able to vote from that location.
Under the law, students who voted from their college residence in the May 8 recall primary must vote at that same polling place for Tuesday’s election (unless they voted absentee).
However, those students who have not voted using their college residence may declare their home/summer address as their main residence, and should be able to register at the polls Tuesday. Castore, however, says reports pouring into the Election Protection call center she’s helping staff in Milwaukee are indicating some college students who are home for the summer are being told that they can’t register to vote at their home/summer address even if they didn’t vote while away at school.
“Some students are being told if you were at college and haven’t lived at home for 28 days you can’t register to vote,” says Castore. “But if they did not vote in the May primary, then the student can opt what to call their residence -- whether it’s the college or home. The (Government Accountability Board) has made that very clear -– except the message hasn’t gotten through to a whole lot of poll workers.
Although this provision is one of several potentially confusing aspects of the voter ID law, efforts were made last month by student groups, institutions such as UW-Madison and cities such as Madison to make students aware of what they’d need to do to be able to vote in Tuesday’s recall election.
Attempts to reach students who have had trouble voting Tuesday were not immediately successful.
When asked if the Government Accountability Board has heard of any problems with students having issues at the polls, GAB spokesperson Reid Magney would only note he has heard about the League of Women Voters’ concerns.
Jeff Snow, who is chairman of UW-Madison’s College Republicans, told the Cap Times in an email that, “I am not hearing anything from my friends or members as to problems voting.”
Castore urges those who encounter problems voting Tuesday to call 1-866-687-8683.