Generation Z vote: UW-La Crosse students emphasize importance of casting a ballot

UW-La Crosse political science class echo frustration, passion, and
Gen Z Vote

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Young people have the opportunity to make their mark on this election. Pew research shows Generation Z, people age 18-23, are 55 percent white and 45 percent non-white. Typically young people don’t turn out in high numbers on election day.

The baby boomer generation and older voters are 74 percent white. Should younger voters show up this year they could shift the momentum one candidate needs to win the White House. A class at UW-La Crosse had this discussion with many voting for the first time.

“I’m laughing because I’m like so exhausted and ready for this election to be over,” UW-La Crosse assistant political science professor Anthony Chergosky said as he began class one afternoon.

The day, played out in mind-numbing political ads, yard signs, and status updates on social media, is finally here.

“You’re in like the top one percent in terms of how much your vote counts in this election,” Chergosky said.

The thoughts going on in most people’s heads this election year comes out in words in Chergosky’s political science class.

“Either way you vote, people are going to bash you and hate you for it,” said Lauryn Leist, a student in one of Chergosky’s classes.

College-age voters typically don’t show up to the polls in numbers like their parents.

“Forty-nine percent is like mind-blowingly high turnout among age 18-29,” Chergosky said.

Some students, like Nathan Wiest, want to change the narrative.

“People have stances and we’re very strongly opinionated and I think our whole generation is,” Wiest said. “I think that’s gonna show a lot in the voter turnout of 18-24-year-olds.”

Laural Almquist lived in Illinois prior to moving to Wisconsin. Illinois has not voted red since 1988.

“Moving to a swing state is really exciting because it feels like what we have to say actually matters,” Almquist said.

The tone in this class sings a different key, despite data showing younger voters don’t value the ballot box like generations before them.

“I think that’s the number one reason I’m voting, because this election is bigger than me and you,” said Sophie Miller. “It’s about everybody.”

They value their voice, so their neighbors can have one too.

“My vote this year is definitely for the future, and for a lot of minorities and for a lot of other people,” Wiest said.

Never underestimate a group of opportunists with the passion to make their voice count.

“Voting is a huge responsibility and it is a really big deal,” Liest said.

Miller understands the sun will rise no matter which direction the votes settle.

“We’re optimistic enough to hope that there’s gonna be better, and no matter who’s in the office is gonna realize what happened in 2020 and correct the mistakes,” Miller said.

One student said the reason young voters may not vote due to the fact candidates are difficult to relate to. Others say they also feel they are nervous they’ll make the wrong decision that could affect others. Chergosky said voter turnout among young people fell from 2008 to 2012, but rose again in 2016.