University of Wisconsin–Madison Joins Campuses Nationwide in Effort to be “Voter Friendly”

Vote in Person
Students cast their votes for the Nov. 3 presidential election during the first day of early in-person voting as staff from the City of Madison Clerk’s Office work an outdoor-polling station on East Campus Mall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison during autumn on Oct. 20, 2020. All were wearing face masks and practicing safety protocols as the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW–Madison)

Today, University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of over two hundred campuses in thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia designated as a “Voter Friendly Campus.” The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encourage their students to register and vote in 2020 elections and in the coming years.

The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. UW–Madison was evaluated based on a campus plan outlining how it would register, educate, and turnout student voters in 2020, how we facilitated voter engagement efforts on our campus and a final analysis of our efforts — all in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic. The designation is valid through December 2022.

This is UW–Madison’s first-time receiving the designation as a voter friendly campus. The work of the BadgersVote Coalition leading up to the 2020 presidential election earned UW–Madison this designation via:

  • Increasing access to the student voter ID by creating the website and the voter ID print stations at all campus polling locations. Thus, allowing 2733 students the ability to cast their ballot.
  • Hosting the student-centered resource for voting information on
  • Collaborating with UW Athletics to host voter registration events for all 23 athletic teams and the spirit squad.
  • Collaborating with University Housing and the City Clerk’s Office to provide voter registration forms to University Housing residents and support those in isolation and quarantine on election day.
  • Student-led voting efforts around voter registration, voter education, and voter turnout including Zoom the Vote Sessions, classroom presentations, voting office hours, student organization outreach and marketing.
  • Participating in the Big Ten Voting Challenge.
  • Hiring 16 student vote organizers to mobilize peers to vote, share voting resources, sign peers up for voter registration sessions and pledge to vote.

UW–Madison has made a strong statement about the civic mission of higher education to prepare students to be engaged participants in our democracy and is excited to continue engaging students through 2021, 2022 and beyond. The full report can be found on the BadgersVote page of the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

In addition, Chancellor Blank continues to actively advocate for student voter engagement — making a visible commitment to reaching full student voter registration and voter participation in all elections.

The institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural and urban campuses. Notably, the list of designated institutions includes many Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The program is ultimately serving millions of students.