Community Best Practices: Voting and the census in the age of coronavirus

Voting booths at Hermosa Beach City Hall during California Primary

By Dr. Philip Rocco, assistant professor of political science

As the Marquette community adapts to changing circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, our faculty and staff experts have been able to share some tips and reminders from their areas of expertise.

When crises strike, democracy soldiers on. In the United States and around the world, voting and other forms of political participation have continued in the midst of war, economic turmoil, and health emergencies. Yet crises create risks and can generate confusion in ways that make political participation more difficult.  Here are a few basic tips for staying engaged as we wrestle with COVID-19:

Voting in the Spring Election 

What’s happening: At this time, the Wisconsin Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary is still taking place as planned on April 7. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Wisconsin Election Commission strongly recommends that that anyone planning to vote in the election does so by absentee ballot rather than in-person

How to request an absentee ballot: Registered voters can request an absentee ballot by going to the State of Wisconsin Elections Commission voting website.These requests must be received by April 2, but do not wait, as there may be delays in mail delivery. Your absentee ballot must be received in your municipal clerk’s office, or at your polling place, by 8 p.m. on election day (April 7). 

If you don’t mail in an absentee ballot: you can still vote in person on election day at your polling place (check You can also vote early at your municipal clerk’s office.

If you missed the deadline to register online or by mail: you can still register in person at early voting sites (i.e. your municipal clerk’s office) or at your polling place on Election Day.  More information is available at

––Remember to bring Proof of Residence and Photo ID.

For additional information, check Marquette University’s voter registration page.

Filling Out the Census 

What’s happening: Everyone living in the United States must complete the 2020 Census. It’s particularly important for students, faculty and staff because it will determine how we spend billions of dollars in federal funding for Pell Grants, health care, housing, transportation and other important education and community services.

Responding to the 2020 Census: You should already have received an invitation to fill out your 2020 Census, which you can then complete online. It should you take you about 10 minutes, so respond as soon as possible. Remember: the confidentiality of your information is protected by federal law.

Students who typically live away from their parents’ or guardians’ homes, whether on campus or off campus, should NOT be counted on their parents’ census form, EVEN if they are staying with their parents/guardians on Census Day (April 1) due to COVID-19. Students who live in a residence hall and campus-owned apartments will be counted by Marquette through the Census Bureau’s Group Quarters count. Students who live in private off-campus housing should respond to the invitation they received in the mail.