Tuesday, Sept. 19, marks National Voter Registration Day, a civic engagement effort that mobilizes organizers in all 50 states to register voters and garner excitement about upcoming elections.
The nonpartisan holiday was first launched in 2012 by a group of civic organizations. In Wisconsin, the day will be celebrated at a variety of events.
“Election days can be busy, and while Wisconsin maintains its same-day voter registration, this initiative aims to ready citizens before the election takes place," Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said in a press release about the holiday.
"What I love about this holiday is that it inspires confidence in our voters. Allowing people to be empowered as they enter the polling place, knowing that they’re registered, strengthens our democracy."
Here's what you need to know about National Voter Registration Day in the greater Milwaukee area.
#iVoted will host a concert at Nō Studios, free for registered voters
The nonpartisan national voting organization #iVoted will host a concert at Nō Studios on Tuesday evening. The show will feature performances by Milwaukee-based folk band Dead Horses and Milwaukee Bucks ambassador Wave Chapelle.
#iVoted was co-founded in 2018 by Emily White, who is from Wisconsin. The music executive and her collaborators, Mike Luba and Pat Sansone, have arranged for over 150 concert venues in 37 states to let fans into shows for free if they show a selfie from outside their polling place or proof of their voter registration.
In an interview Monday, White said her Wisconsin roots drove her excitement for Tuesday's event.
"Wisconsin was definitely an inspiration for #iVoted as one of many states where elections are decided by the size of some concert venues. The 2016 election was decided in Wisconsin by some 20,000 votes and some change, that's just over the size of Fiserv Forum," said White.
At all #iVoted events, including Tuesday's concert, attendees get free entry if they check their voter registration status on myvote.wi.gov at the door. Underage voters will be allowed to enter the event if they can tell volunteers what year they will be eligible to vote. Non-citizens and ineligible voters can enter the event if they share which artist they are most excited to see perform.
The evening will open with a panel featuring Bianca Shaw from All Voting is Local Wisconsin and and Peggy Creer from League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County. Doors open at 6 p.m.
UW schools will host voter registration drives
Several UW schools have been designated as "Voter Friendly" campuses since 2016, meaning that the schools have developed intricate plans to encourage the civic and electoral engagement of their students throughout the academic year.
"Discourse surrounding voting and elections in the media often centers around partisanship and political polarization. Something that I have noticed since I have arrived at UW-Madison is that students push each other to vote and participate in government, regardless of the views others hold," said Amunjot Kaur, BadgersVote Co-Lead Intern. "Bipartisan civic engagement holds great value on this campus."
At UW-Madison, students will host a voting drive in East Campus Mall, a high traffic pathway between academic buildings. In addition to offering registration, the group will host a polaroid photo booth for students to capture moments from National Voter Registration Day.
More events in Milwaukee and beyond
The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County will register voters at libraries across the city. At the Milwaukee Public Library Good Hope branch, voting organizers will host a mini-carnival from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Attendees can register to vote and ask League of Women Voters volunteers election questions, test their voting knowledge with quizzes and games, and win free voting swag.
Below is a list of additional libraries that will host voter registration events:
Milwaukee Public Library Mitchell Street branch, 906 West Historic Mitchell Street - 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
North Shore Public Library, 6800 North Port Washington Road - 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Wauwatosa Public Library, 7635 West North Avenue - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
New Berlin Public Library, 15105 Library Lane - 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Wisconsin League of Women Voters will host a Pirate Party. The virtual voter registration event aligns with National Talk Like A Pirate Day and will ask Wisconsin locals "Arrr you ready to register?"
Local organizers will discuss the importance of voting and answer voter registration questions
Attendees can win voting merchandise and prizes
Attendees will be encouraged to remind their friends and family to register to vote through a text-banking session
Future Voters Festival will take place at the La Plazita Parklet at the intersection of South 16th Street and Forest Home Avenue, on September 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The event is sponsored by The League of Women Voters, along with with their co-sponsors: Muskego Way Forward, UMOS’ Raices Youth Group, Safe & Sound, Milwaukee Christian Center, Kosciuszko Youth Group, Boys and Girls Club and Cristo Rey High School. They will offer school supplies, food and social activities to engage and inform youth about voting.
Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) will host a series of voter engagement events including a voter registration party at Zocalo Food Truck Park.
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, LIT's voter registration party at Zocalo Food Truck Park, 636 South 6th Street, will include a DJ and free cookies. The event will take place from 4 p.m until 6 p.m.
On Thursday, Sept. 21, LIT will offer a voter registration drive at El Rey Food Mart, 1320 West Burnham Street, Milwaukee, from 11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
How can you register to vote?
In Wisconsin, voters are allowed to register to vote in person on Election Day.
You can also register to vote online using myvote.wi.gov or by mail up to 20 days before the election. On the website, eligible voters can verify whether or not they have registered before preceding through the online registration process. A voter will be asked the following questions:
Are you a United States Citizen?
Will you be at least 18 years old at the time of the next election?
Do you have a valid, unexpired WI driver's license or WI State Identification Card?
Will you have resided at your current residential address for at least 28 consecutive days prior to the next election, with no present intent to move?
Are you currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction including probation, parole or supervision>
Are you otherwise disqualified from voting?
Eligible Wisconsin voters who do not have a current, valid Wisconsin driver's license or Wisconsin State ID Card may complete the voter registration form and mail or deliver their form to their municipal clerk along with a proof of residence document.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 2023 National Voter Registration Day in Milwaukee: Free concerts, events this week