Marquette Wire

Changes help AMU polling run more smoothly

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Students wait in line at the Alumni Memorial Union to vote.

Students wait in line at the Alumni Memorial Union to vote.

Photo by Maryam Tunio

Photo by Maryam Tunio

Students wait in line at the Alumni Memorial Union to vote.

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Students gathered in the Alumni Memorial Union ballrooms to cast their ballots for president of the United States Tuesday, but unlike the Wisconsin presidential primaries held in April, they did not have to spend hours waiting in line.

To avoid confusion about voter registration and the two-hour-plus wait times that occurred during the primaries and gained national attention, the Milwaukee Election Commission took initiatives to improve the election day voting process.

First, it increased its efforts to help students register early. Partnering with organizations like the Marquette chapter of the League of Women Voters, they provided students with pre-election voter registration information. Early voter registration was also available in the AMU between Sept. 7 and Oct. 19. 

“Students are often distracted by academics and are unaware of the materials needed to register to vote ahead of time,” said Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.

Charlene Angeles, a junior in the College of Business Administration who voted at the AMU during the primaries, felt the positive effects of the Commission’s efforts.

“In the primaries the lines took a lot longer just because less people were registered ahead of time, but this time more people were already registered, and the waiting time from beginning to end was a lot shorter,” she said. “I thought it was a lot better and more efficient.”

Stacey Oommen, a third-year physical therapy student, said she did not have to wait in line because she registered early.

“It was super easy if you registered to vote already,” she said. “It was quick and simple.”

Teaming up with Marquette, the Milwaukee Election Commission not only helped register students, but encouraged students to get Marquette Voter IDs that would comply with Wisconsin’s recently enacted Voter ID Law.

Since July 1, Marquette issued 1,219 voter IDs, with 610 of those IDs issued on election day.

“It was a terrific collaboration between the Election Commission and Marquette University,” Albrecht said.

The Milwaukee Election Commission also created a pamphlet to more thoroughly educate poll workers. The pamphlets included instructions along with rules and regulations intended to eliminate worker confusion when assisting voters. 

Lastly, they moved ward 192, which includes Campus Town East and Campus Town West, to vote at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Learning instead of the AMU. The AMU was the polling location for wards 190 and 191.

“During any high turnout election, having three wards at one polling site is too crowded,” Albrecht said.

Carolyn Von Arx, a senior in the College of Business Administration and a resident of ward 192, said she approved of the switch.

“For the primaries, people had to wait in two-hour lines who weren’t even students, but lived close to campus,” she said. “So I think it’s good for everybody to disperse and reduce the wait this time around.”

Overall, many students were excited to vote in their first presidential election and pleased that the voting process was easier than expected.

“I was actually surprised,” Sebastian Konewko, a senior in the College of Engineering, said. “It was quite efficient and very smooth. I was unregistered, and it probably took 15 to 20 minutes to go through the whole process.”

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