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WI public information campaign to teach folks about elections

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In the next few months, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will roll out a new public information campaign aimed at teaching voters more about how elections work.

Among other goals, the initiative will show people how to register to vote, how elections are secured, how to become a poll worker and what happens at polling places on election days.

Riley Vetterkind, public information officer for the Commission, told commissioners last week the project is in response to a "steady influx of questions and concerns about the elections process."

"A lot of the questions that we've received have been based in misunderstandings about the fundamentals of how elections work," Vetterkind explained. "In order to address this, we wanted to come up with a project that would help educate the public in a fun and engaging way."

Misinformation has spread like wildfire in recent years, including by former President Donald Trump during and after the November 2020 election. Citing such misinformation, several prominent Wisconsin Republican lawmakers, including the chair of the state Assembly's Election Committee, have called for "decertifying" the election results, which experts say is impossible.

Vetterkind noted the first prong of the campaign aims to reach high school students through social studies and civics classes, with the second half aimed at adults through print and broadcast public service announcements. Vetterkind added the initiative is strictly nonpartisan, and not a "get out the vote" campaign.

"To the extent that it talks about voter registration, it's simply in a mechanical way," Vetterkind emphasized. "It's just one important part of the election process. I just can't emphasize enough that this is not meant to be a voter registration campaign in any way."

Wisconsin's partisan primary election is August 9, and the General Election is Nov. 8. While the deadline to register online for the primary has passed, residents can still register to vote at their clerk's office until August 5 at 5 p.m., or they can register in-person on Election Day.

Born and raised in Indiana, Jonah Chester has been covering issues in Wisconsin for the past several years. He previously worked at WORT 89.9 FM in Madison, where he earned awards for his coverage of everything from law enforcement and policing to the 2020 presidential election.
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