By Allison Dukes

Earlier this week, I became one of thousands of early voters, casting my ballot for President Barack Obama, Tammy Baldwin and Democrats up and down the ticket.

I first heard about early voting from the President himself, when he mentioned it during his Bascom Hill speech in early October. Before then, I thought the only way to vote early was through an absentee ballot in the mail. But after seeing several ads on TV and Facebook about the ease of in-person early voting, I decided to give it a try for myself. And it was just that: simple, easy and fast.

A quick Google search gave me all the information I needed to find my City Clerk’s office and early vote at my convenience. I walked right into the clerk’s office and like magic, in less than five minutes, I had my ballot, marked the candidates I was voting for and dropped it in the box.

Now that I’ve voted, I don’t have to worry about life getting in the way on Election Day – if I get sick or need to study for a midterm or work on a project, I won’t have to miss out on the chance to have my voice heard.

I’m proud to say I have already cast my vote. I want to use the time I’ve saved to help and encourage other students to vote early as well. I know too many students who will try to say they don’t have time to vote because they would need to re-register after moving. But with in-person early voting, they can register and vote all at once.

With less than two weeks before Election Day and the Presidential race heating up, Wisconsin’s early voting privilege has never been more important. Over 20% of Wisconsin voters used in-person or absentee early voting in 2008, and those votes were essential to helping President Obama win the state.

The Democratic Party needs those votes even more this year.By voting early, we not only show our support for the Democratic Party, President Obama and Tammy Baldwin, we also send a clear message to Republican candidates that they have an up-hill battle to fight to win over Wisconsin.

First Lady Michelle Obama has already voted herself – you can hear her message about early voting in Wisconsin by clicking here. And President Obama voted early in Chicago yesterday as well, becoming the first president in history to do so. Follow suit and become the first of millions to cast your ballot early by visiting for more info.

Allison Dukes is a communications intern with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying journalism and political science.