Get out to vote

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Today’s primary elections are calling on Wisconsin residents to vote, and thousands of men and women across the state will be doing just that. College students too have the opportunity to participate in the civic process.

Voters in Milwaukee County can choose among candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, one of two U.S. Senate seats, district attorney and sheriff. Some candidates are also looking for terms in the Wisconsin Assembly, Wisconsin Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kyle R. Richmond, spokesman for the State Elections Board, said it is important to vote in the primaries because they narrow down the race.

“The primary contest can give a better idea of the issues,” he said. “It offers more choices and gives candidates the opportunity to differentiate where they stand on the spectrum.”

All students who wish to vote in Wisconsin, even those who aren’t permanent residents of the state, may vote in the elections. Anyone may register to vote at the polls as long as they can prove they have lived in Wisconsin for at least 10 days. In addition, a Wisconsin driver’s license is required, but if the voter does not have one, the last four digits of their social security number will suffice.

But if voters do have a Wisconsin driver’s license, they must bring it, said Susan Edman, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission. Otherwise they will have to vote on a provisional ballot, meaning that their vote will not be counted unless they present their license number to the clerk by 4 p.m. the day following the election.

Edman said there is generally a good turnout of student voters at the elections, “especially federal elections or those for governors. In big elections, there is a good turnout, but in primaries not as much.”

The primaries are a different type of election than other types students may hear about more often.

“The primaries are what political scientists call ‘low-stimulus’ elections,” said John McAdams, associate professor of political science. “Every four years in November when we vote for a president is a ‘high-stimulus’ election. Huge amounts of media coverage and those stimuli get people interested.”

McAdams also said that students are given a good opportunity to vote with Wisconsin’s Election Day voter registration.

“They can simply go to the polls with some form of ID with their street address; that’s as lenient as you can get,” he said.

Richmond said any current resident from a different state may re-register at the polls and their other registration will be cancelled.

Another important step aside from registering to vote is gaining more knowledge of the many candidates. To do this, Richmond said students should look at a particular candidate’s Web site, position papers, pamphlets or brochures.

“Radio and television advertisements aren’t necessarily the best place to look because they are exactly that: advertisements, not public education,” he said. “You may be in school for only four years, but the community depends on your participation in the civic process. Participate and help make good decisions.”,”Sara J. Martinez”

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