With only 28 days until the midterm election, Big 10 universities are teaming up to make sure their students turn out and vote.
A nonpartisan competition called the “Big 10 Voting Challenge” aims to inspire students to want to exercise their civic duty and to make voter registration more accessible on all fourteen campuses in the Big 10.
At UW-Madison, campus and city volunteers are setting up booths at popular locations such as dining halls, dorm buildings and libraries to catch students while they are out and about.
Hundreds of students have registered or re-registered through this process.
“I wasn’t planning on doing it like today but then I just walked past it and noticed it was there so I figured I’d just get it done with,” said freshman Conley Malone, who registered at Gordon Commons dining hall.
One initiative born out of this challenge was the idea to pair bus pass pickup with voter registration.
“With bus pass distribution we had volunteers who could help students get registered to vote when they were picking up their bus pas. That was a super successful project,” said Megan Miller, assistant director of civic engagement for the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
Over 1,700 students were registered while picking up their bus pass, according to Miller.
The two winners of the challenge will receive a trophy after the election when all votes are in account. The victors will be the university with the highest voter turnout and the university with the most improved turnout compared to the 2016 presidential election.
Only 21 percent of those under 30 turned out to vote in 2014, compared with 36 percent overall, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Turnout on university campuses across the country was even lower, at just 19 percent, the study also found.
“I think my freshman year I didn’t see as much visibility of this especially around the presidential election. So I think it’s really great to see this around congressional election, a lot more initiative to try to push people to vote, especially in dorms and freshmen and around campus,” said Caitlin Attaway, a student fellow at Morgridge Center for Public Service.
For the Badger Report, I’m Lilly Price.