UW-Madison students inspired to vote early this election

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A few different groups on UW-Madison's campus were encouraging students to vote early on Monday.

Volunteers handed out flyers with information about where students can vote and what they should bring.

"We want to make sure that students know when, where and how to vote, make sure there's fewer lines and give them all the information they need to go cast their ballots in this election," said Maia Berlow, a Field Organizer for NextGen America.

UW-Madison is also part of the Big 10 Voting Challenge, a competition between Big 10 schools to see who has the highest turnout.

Political science professor David Canon said young people usually vote in low numbers.

"Eighteen to 34-year-olds vote at a rate of about half as much as say 50 to 60-year-olds and in recent elections, especially the last midterm elections, between about a sixth and a fifth of all young people, millennials, ended up voting," Canon said.

Canon said the biggest reason young people don't vote is because they feel like they don't have enough information, but he said this year could be different.

"This is an election I think where the youth vote can make a big difference, in part because we see a huge partisan gap in their preferences, bigger than pretty much any election I can remember,” he said. “Now, it won't make a difference unless the young voters turn out, but it has that huge potential.”

Montie said low voter turnout makes getting young voters engaged even more important.

"We're the next generation that's going to make decisions for the whole country and the world," she said, adding, "I just think at such an educated institution, Madison, Wisconsin, it's really our duty to translate our knowledge to the voting booth and choose the next generation of leaders."

Canon said it's necessary for young people to participate in elections.

"If we can get young people in the habit of voting early on, from the very first time they’re eligible to vote, and make that a lifetime habit, that’s how you have a healthy democracy," he said.

Students can vote at three locations on UW-Madison's campus: the Student Activities Center, Union South and Memorial Union. These early voting locations are also open to all Madison residents.