In a normal election year, college students are encouraged to go out and vote at their nearest polling location, but the new Voter ID law and the unique summer election schedule will completely change how political parties get out the college vote.
Milwaukee Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett met with UW-Milwaukee students and faculty Monday afternoon to remind them not only to get out and vote in the June 5 election, but to vote using the same address they used in the May 8 primary election.
Because of the new 28-day residency requirement included in the Voter ID bill, students that voted from their campus location in May will have to request an absentee ballot to vote from that same address when they go home for the summer.
That change could affect college voter turnout, and Barrett said the requirement was an intentional move by Republicans to deter Democratic-leaning college students from voting.
"It's no surprise they're trying to make it harder for young people who are in college to vote in the same legislative session that they've cut funding for universities and technical schools, because you have been directly impacted by their actions," Barrett said.
College Democrats of Wisconsin President Andy Suchorski said his group has led an absentee ballot drive over the past two months, and so far they have 200 students registered at UW-Milwaukee and 600 statewide.
"It's very difficult getting students to vote when they're not in school," he said. "It's one thing to knock on their dorm room door and say, 'Hey, go vote downstairs.' It's another to say, 'Hey you have to fill out an absentee request, you have to register and all of that fun stuff.'"
Another student, Katie Klein, has been hitting the pavement to get students registered.
"People are really confused, and for good reason," she said.
Barrett told the crowd near the UW-Milwaukee Union cafeteria that he would end the "civil war" created by Gov. Scott Walker and bring the state back together. He also repeated his claim that the state's job loss is a result of Walker losing focus on job creation, choosing instead to travel around the country and speak at fundraisers.
Barrett was joined by State Rep. Jon Richards and Congresswoman Gwen Moore, who told the students that a Walker victory in the recall election could boost the confidence of Republicans in Washington, DC, and statehouses across the country in pushing forward similar policies.
"If they win here in Wisconsin, they will be emboldened to take down Medicare, to take down Social Security, to take down Pell grants, to take down Stafford loans, to take away women's reproductive freedoms," Moore said. "This state is a firewall against losing all of our rights, and we had better treat it that way."