First day of in-person absentee voting sees long lines in Madison, on UW campus

MADISON, Wis. – Thirteen in-person absentee voting locations opened up on Tuesday, and that created some long lines around Madison.

At a voting tent in front of UW-Madison’s Memorial Union, students were waiting more than 45 minutes to get their opportunity to vote. But students said they didn’t mind spending time waiting out in the cold.

“We don’t have anything else to do. What else are we going to do? Classes are all online so might as well just take a break and be able to go outside and do something that actually matters,” said  UW-Madison sophomores Ella Shapiro and Erin Rudnick.

It’s Shapiro’s first time voting and she said she wanted to do it on the first day of in-person voting because democracy is important to her.

“I saw on the news awhile ago that there were mailboxes, USPS mailboxes being taken away in Madison. So that kind of pushed forward that it’s very important to vote in person if you are able to and if you can. And we are able to, so we decided to do that to make sure our votes count,” said Shapiro.

Both students said they are excited to be able to vote in a battleground state where they feel their vote will really matter, instead of in their home states.

Lizzie Johnson, an 18-year-old election volunteer, said other poll workers who have worked on the UW-Madison campus before were shocked by how many students showed up.

“This line is long and especially in the beginning of the process, we were trying to get the hang of it, so it was going slowly and they waited in this line. We’ve seen students who are on their zoom classes like on their phone. So it’s good to see that people are getting out here to vote and waiting in this cold, long line to do that,” said Johnson.

Johnson had the responsibility of making sure students in line had their IDs, were wearing a mask and were following social distancing guidelines. She said she also had to ask a woman to leave who was harassing students about her own political beliefs.

She said all students were being very respectful of the health guidelines.

Most in-person absentee voting locations are open until Oct. 31 or Nov. 1, so there is no need to rush. Many of the people in line today just wanted to get it done early.