June 22, 2021 marked the 50th Anniversary of Wisconsin’s ratification of the 26th Amendment — the amendment that guaranteed all Americans aged 18 and older the right to vote in all United States elections, and outlawed age discrimination among eligible voters. BadgersVote is celebrating the youth vote while recognizing that barriers facing young people and particularly college students.
Today’s youngest generations are the most diverse in U.S. history, and achieving the full promise of the 26th Amendment goes hand-in-hand with striving for racial justice – and against voter suppression. Wisconsin has not been shy from the spotlight when it comes to creating barriers to civic engagement, particularly with the democratic process. We continue to navigate the impact of a 2011 Wisconsin voter ID law which prevents the use of the provided university ID card from being a valid form of identification. While these strict ID laws allow do not impact every student as a Wisconsin driver’s license, Wisconsin state ID, or passport are accepted, it still leaves a noticeable amount of our student population disenfranchised from voting in Wisconsin.
This is either because there are barriers to them obtaining one of these IDs or they may have identification from another state. Over the past year, a team at UW–Madison worked with the City Clerk’s Office and the Wisconsin Elections Commission to develop the electronic issuing of the university’s voter ID as well as providing print stations at early voting and on election days — a tradition that we hope to continue as we support students making their voice heard in the democratic process.
“The beautiful thing about democracy is that it is designed to represent the people. BadgersVote is aimed at helping out community get access to information to make an informed decision and be engaged. We need to continue to push toward that 100% participation because that would be a true democracy. This includes young people and those from marginalized communities that have lack representation for far too long,” says Voter Engagement and Civic Learning Coordinator Zachery Holder.
Today’s young voters face both legal and psychological barriers to voting, such as complicated registration processes or unfamiliarity with the democratic process. This year’s anniversary highlights the importance of breaking down those barriers and the role of youth voting rights activism in creating a more diverse and equitable democracy.
As BadgersVote recognizes that democracy never sleeps, now is the time to start working to empower our campus and partner with our greater Madison community, to get out the vote for the next election. As we prepare for the fall we look for support from our faculty and staff as well as building a coalition of student volunteers to help mobilize their peers to make their voices heard.
“Young people have such a unique perspective on all policies and issues that shape our country right now,” says Big10 Voting intern and Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Ambassador Tamia Fowlkes. “That is the importance and excitement about voting your unique experience will play an impactful role in shaping the future.”
Are you a faculty or staff member interested in helping keep the campus community informed and engaged? Join this Faculty and Staff Voting Champions group.
Are you a student looking for ways to be civically engaged and lead by example? Join our student volunteers program with BadgersVote.
Check out BadgersVote social media on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube for resources, information, and videos celebrating the 26th Amendment throughout July. You can even submit your own video on why you vote!
Join Campus Recreation and Well-being in July for a fun run/walk/roll event. Participate in a 2.6 mile fun event to celebrate the 26th amendment. The first 25 to register receives a t-shirt. This event will be in person with a virtual opportunity as well. For inquiries about the 50th-anniversary event for the 26th Amendment, opportunities for collaboration or involvement in BadgersVote connect with Voter Engagement and Civic Learning Coordinator Zachery Holder.