College students and the impact of their vote in Western Wisconsin

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Nationwide, political experts say the youth vote may be the key to winning office. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than eight million new eligible voters in this election and roughly two million of them are in the Midwest.

The 26th amendment grants everyone 18 and older the right to vote.

“We have that right for a reason and it’s important to share your opinion no matter what side it is,” said UW-La Crosse junior Grace Wallace.

Historically, that right hasn’t always been exercised.

“Young people themselves, don’t get involved in the political process as much as possible,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VA).

According to the U.S Census Bureau, voter turnout among 18-29 year old’s for the 2014 midterm was 20%.

“In recent years, things have changed somewhat,” said political analyst Joe Heim.

In 2018, voter turnout for that age group jumped to 36%. Heim says encouragement and politically active campuses are part of the reason young voter turnout continues to increase.

“I think it has to do with student government, and generally supportive administration that encourages people to get out and vote,” said Heim.

UW-La Crosse student and first time voter Maddie Burbach agrees.

“It was exciting because it was like I had gotten to hear so much about voting from my parents and my friends that are older. It was fun to be a part of the process and know I’m making a difference,” said Burbach.

Heim says elected officials are also focused on recruiting young voters.

“People in elected offices pay attention to who votes,” said Heim.

Last week, Senator Sanders made campaign stops on four Wisconsin college campuses on behalf of the Democratic party.

“I just hope that we can engage them and get them out to vote,” Sanders said.

UW-La Crosse student Reed Anderson says he hopes young voters will head to the ballot and vote for representation.

“The demographics in Senate and Congress, it’s mostly 65 and up and if we want people who are more like us and have our beliefs, then we absolutely need to vote for those people,” said Anderson.

Heim says with the help of young voters, the upcoming November midterm could break a record.

“We could conceivably have record turnout,” said Heim.