Letter to the Editor: How much is democracy worth to you?

UWL senior Kendra Whelan.

Kendra Whelan, Guest Contributor

On Tuesday, Feb. 18 citizens across the state of Wisconsin went to their polling locations to participate in the ultimate civic duty—voting. For student voters, many of us went to the Student Union to cast our ballots but were met with a hitch: WINGS mobile no longer offered voter verification.

See, if you vote with your student ID, instead of a Wisconsin driver’s license, you need secondary verification to prove you are a resident of your ward. This is available for free on your WINGS account—or, at least, it should be.

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, voters like me were told we had to print our residence verification at a pay-for-print station, which costs five cents because an update to WINGS mobile did not have the link.

What would have taken me less than five minutes—because the line was so short—took me nearly half an hour. I had to go to the COVE, log in to the computer, log in to WINGS, download the pdf, log in to the pay-for-print—DUO verifying all the way—and spend five whole cents in order to participate in my right as a citizen of this country.

I had to skip lunch that day in order to make it to my next class. Thankfully, I did have five cents to spare to print this crucial information, but what if someone else didn’t? What if someone couldn’t spare the time to go through this whole ordeal?

Any obstacle to voting—especially monetary obstacles—is illegal and undemocratic. Making someone pay to access their right to vote is literally a poll tax, and it is unconstitutional. While this was obviously a mistake on behalf of ITS, it certainly was not harmless. We may never know how many people were deterred from voting that day because of this.

And for those of us who did cast our ballots but were forced to pay to access this right, we can get a refund. According to Larry Ringgenberg, the director of university centers, students can go to room 3200 in the Student Union and receive their refund.

He also told me that they are working with the city clerk and ITS to make sure this never happens again. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and any barrier to that right is abhorrent. While we may never recover the votes we lost that day, at least we can recover our refund.

So, student voters, go get your refund, and never stop participating in this great American experiment!

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Letters to the Editor do not reflect the beliefs or values of The Racquet Press.

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