UW-Madison is opening a second location on campus where students can get the special identification cards that thousands of them will need to vote in next week’s presidential primary and spring election.
The university also plans to extend the hours when students can get the IDs, as part of a campus effort to make sure Badgers have what they need to vote on April 5, Assistant Dean of Students Kipp Cox said.
The identification cards tens of thousands of UW-Madison students and workers use — known as Wiscards — don’t comply with Wisconsin’s state law requiring a photo ID to vote; instead, the university has distributed free voter IDs since 2012.
Students have been able to get the IDs for weeks at the Wiscard office in room 145 of Union South.
Next Monday, the day before the election, the university will also start printing the IDs at Gordon Dining and Events Center, which is closer to many UW dorms and student neighborhoods to the south and east of campus.
Student groups and local officials have called on UW-Madison to change Wiscards so they can be used for voting, but the university has balked at the idea.
Doing so would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, campus officials said, and requirements in Wisconsin’s voter ID law mean the students, faculty and staff who have the cards would have to replace them every two years, causing a logistical headache.
Most UW-Madison students won’t need the voter IDs because they have a Wisconsin driver’s license or, if they aren’t residents, plan to vote absentee in their home states, officials say.
But the university estimates about 6,400 students don’t have the credentials they need to vote in Wisconsin and will need to get one of the special voter IDs.
As of Monday afternoon, UW had made 1,240 of the IDs, Cox said.
He said students who need them “should have plenty of time” to get their ID cards on or before next Tuesday.
The office in Union South will have extended hours this week and on Monday, staying open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The second office, in the Ed Gordon Suite on the dining hall’s second floor, will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.
Both locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, and will be closed over the weekend.
Students only have to bring their Wiscards with them to either location, and printing a voter ID will take less than two minutes, Cox said.
University officials have also been sending emails to students directing them to a website, vote.wisc.edu, that has information on polling places and what students will need to vote.