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Hundreds Register to Vote in Milwaukee on National Voter Registration Day

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Marti Mikkelson
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Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day. In Milwaukee, volunteers fanned out across town to register people to vote.

The volunteers also explained the new requirements in Wisconsin.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court told the state that it can enforce its Voter ID law in November. It requires people to present government-issued photo identification in order to vote.

One spot in town, where volunteers registered people to vote, was at the UWM Student Union. A stream of students lined up at two tables during the noon hour. John McCann filled in a registration form. He’s a sophomore and says he’s looking forward to Election Day.

“I feel like a lot of people my age should be concerned about politics because it does concern us a lot and I feel like the issues that involve us don’t get represented because a lot of people in my age group don’t vote. Nothing is going to change unless you go out there and get some change done,” McCann says.

McCann says he’s aware he’ll have to show photo identification at the polls in November – unless a federal appeals court changes course. He obtained a state-issued ID in 2012, and showed it to volunteers at the table. They told him, it would be acceptable.

Fellow student Chris Herrera has a valid driver’s license, and considers himself lucky.

“I do have an ID right now so it’s not going to be stressful for me but I know people that don’t have an ID right now and I know that’s going to be an issue for them, especially if they’re trying to register the same day and if they don’t have an ID and don’t know about it, it’s going to be a big problem for them,” Herrera says.

The 24-year-old still had to register to vote. So did Lerys Pizarro. She changed addresses this year, so she had to re-register. Pizarro says she must also get a new driver’s license, in order to vote in November. Hers recently expired. The fact she must visit the DMV within the next six weeks, doesn’t bother her.

“They’re just trying to make sure the right person is voting with the right name. It would be really wrong if somebody with the wrong name went to vote, that could vote twice. They’re probably trying to eliminate those problems,” Pizarro says.

The students, on Tuesday, demonstrated a mix of excitement and apathy about the election, according to Ted John. He works for the UWM Women’s Studies Center and helped register students to vote.

“I’m finding some students who pass you by. Some have their ear plugs in and you wonder if they’re really interested at all. There are some who aren’t sure if they’re registered and we can help them out. And, I’m happy to realize that a lot are already registered, so that’s encouraging,” John says.

John says volunteers spent much of their time on National Voter Registration Day, explaining to registrants the different types of photo IDs that will be acceptable in Wisconsin, on Nov. 4.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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