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Madison libraries get creative to help voter registration

Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, the city and its libraries are teaming up to make sure everyone can cast a ballot.
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 5:53 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The City of Madison wants to celebrate National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday by getting as many people as possible registered to vote all week.

With less than two months to Election Day, the city is partnering with public libraries to bring voter registration to everyone who needs it.

“Typically, when our libraries are open, we’re having those events inside our libraries,” said Tana Elias, Madison Public Library marketing manager. However, Elias added, “A lot of the usual resources are closed, or people don’t know if they’re closed or open.”

Usually, people can register to vote at any Madison library, but with libraries open by appointment only, staff got creative to help people cast a ballot—using the Dream Bus.

“We thought, let’s bring the service to them,” Elias explained.

The Dream Bus is a mobile library that serves neighborhoods facing transportation barriers to library access. This week, city election workers came along for the ride.

“We want to make sure every vote is able to be counted,” said election worker Eunice Conley.

People can register to vote or get help with their absentee ballots.

“I think it’s also wonderful that they’re here providing witness for people who may live alone,” said Lynn Morgan, a Madison resident voting absentee.

Lynn visited the Dream Bus to drop off her completed ballot. The bus doubles as a ballot drop-off site.

“It gave me peace of mind actually not to drop this in the mailbox,” she admitted.

Conley explained that ballots dropped off at the Dream Bus get taken to the city clerk’s office every night.

The city’s mission is to make voting convenient and accessible for everyone, and many Madison residents are taking advantage.

“We think that’s so important that everybody do what they can to make sure their votes are counted,” said Charlie Morgan, who also dropped off his absentee ballot.

Election workers will be out with the Dream Bus at different locations all week, and there are hundreds of other events through next week for residents to ensure their voice will be heard this November.

However, the City Clerk’s Office points out, most people won’t even have to leave their home.

The clerk’s office is reminding voters with a driver’s license or Wisconsin ID, they can simply go online at https://MyVote.wi.gov to get registered.

To take care of it over the internet, voters who have moved will need to have updated their address with the Division of Motor Vehicles. Voter registration can be verified here.

For those who need to or would rather sign up in person, the city has set up over 200 events over the next week where people can register. Most of them are at city parks. There will be poll workers at every neighborhood park, community park and mini-park both Saturday, September 26, and the following Saturday. The city is calling the event, its biggest-ever effort, Democracy in the Park.

Other events include (as listed by the city):

The Clerk’s Office will hold voter registration drives throughout the city on Tuesday:

  • 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., City Clerk’s Office, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Rm. 103
  • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., UW Pres House, 731 State Street
  • 11 a.m. – noon, alongside the Library Dream Bus at Leopold Elementary, 2602 Post Road
  • 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Bayview Community Center, 601 Bayview
  • Noon – 4 p.m., Ian’s Pizza on State, 100 State Street
  • 12:15-1:15 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at Bridge-Lakepoint-Waunona Community Center, 1917 Lake Point Drive
  • 2-5 p.m., Catholic Multicultural Center, 1862 Beld Street
  • 4-10 p.m., Genna’s Cocktail Bar, 105 W. Main Street

The week of National Voter Registration Day will kick off with the following voter registration drives on Monday, September 21:

  • 12-12:45 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at 7933 Tree Lane
  • 1-2 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at The Crossings, 1128 Morraine View Drive
  • 2:15-3:15 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at ReNew, 6723 Schroeder Road

The celebration of democracy will continue with the following registration drives on Wednesday, September 23:

  • 1-2 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at Mendota Elementary, 4002 School Road
  • 2:15-3:15 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at Kennedy Heights, 199 Kennedy Heights
  • 3:30-4 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at Oak Park Terrace, 571 Branding Lane

Additional voter registration drives will be held on Thursday, September 24:

  • 10 a.m. – noon, Good Shepherd Food Pantry, 5701 Raymond Road
  • 10:30 a.m. – noon, Catholic Multicultural Center, 1862 Beld Street
  • 11:30 a.m. – noon, alongside the Library Dream Bus at Sandburg Elementary, 4114 Donald Drive
  • Noon – 6 p.m., Orpheum Theater, 216 State Street
  • 2-2:30 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at East Madison Community Center, 8 Straubel Court
  • 5:30-7 p.m., Urban League Parking Lot, 2222 S. Park Street
  • 5:30-7 p.m., Good Shepherd Food Pantry, 5701 Raymond Road

Voters will also have an opportunity to register or update their voter registration on Friday, September 25:

  • 1-1:45 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at Allied Drive Learning Center, 2237 Allied Drive
  • 2:15-3 p.m., alongside the Library Dream Bus at Owl Creek, 23 Horned Owl Drive
  • 5-7 p.m., Breese Stevens Field, 917 E. Mifflin Street (hosted by the Latino Professionals Association and Forward Madison FC)

The City Clerk’s Office is working with other community groups, including Freedom, Inc., to plan additional voter registration drives.

To search for National Voter Registration Day events by zip code, visit https://NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org/events .

Proof of Address Proof of address PDF , either on paper or in an electronic format, is required for all voter registrations that are not completely submitted online (proof of address is verified with the DMV for online submissions). The following types of documents are acceptable as proof of address, showing the voter’s name and current address:

  • Utility bill issued within the past 90 days (water, gas, electric, cable, internet, landline or cellular phone)
  • Bank statement (bank, credit union, credit card, or mortgage statement)
  • Current and valid Wisconsin driver license or Wisconsin identification card
  • Paycheck or pay stub
  • Document issued by a unit of government (this includes a public school, Madison College, or UW-Madison)
  • Check issued by a unit of government
  • Affidavit from an agency (public or private) providing homeless services
  • Edgewood College fee statement, accompanied by an Edgewood College student ID
  • Intake document from a residential care facility

The types of proof of address most commonly used in the City of Madison are Wisconsin driver license/ID cards, Madison Water Utility bills, Madison Gas & Electric bills and UW-Madison documents.

The City of Madison currently has 183,040 registered voters. Since the August 11 Primary Election, 10,789 Madison residents have registered to vote.

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