A new study found a surge in voter registration among young people in Wisconsin following the Parkland shooting.
Since the Feb. 14 shooting, which left 17 dead and sparked a national movement for gun reform, there has been a 5.7 percent increase in young, registered Wisconsin voters 18-29 years old — from 8.33 to 14.07 percent, according to the TargetSmart study.
NextGen America, a political advocacy committee and nonprofit, published a press release detailing the recent surge in Wisconsin voter registration on National Voter Registration Day Tuesday.
NextGen attributed the surge to a movement called Road to Change — a subset of the organization March For Our Lives. The movement was formed in the wake of the tragedy by Parkland students and other high schoolers across the U.S.
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Director of NextGen Rising Ben Wessel said in the NexGen press release the numbers reflect their efforts as well.
“Young voters are fired up like never before and will turn out in record numbers this November,” Wessel said.
According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016, young people ages 18-24 had the lowest recorded registration and voter turnout of any age bracket.
To counteract this, the University of Wisconsin participates in the Big Ten Voting Challenge, a movement to mobilize students to register across all 14 of the Big Ten campuses.
UW political science professor Barry Burden, the director of the Big Ten Voting Challenge on campus said it is in everyone’s best interest to register as soon as possible, especially for the stakes-filled election coming up in November.
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“Voting is the guaranteed way to have a say about who will be elected,” Burden said. “In a midterm year such as 2018, registered voters will have the opportunity to decide who controls Congress and governors in three-quarters of the states.”
While Wisconsin allows registration at the polls, other states do not, and for students interested in voting in their home state through an absentee ballot, it is important to get registered right away, Burden said.
To navigate voting and registration, UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said the university offers students resources, including how to vote absentee.
“The university partners with city and county elections officials and student government to share information via email and social media about how students can register and vote,” McGlone said.
Associated Students of Madison and other registered student organizations also puts together on-campus voter registration drives, McGlone said.
In addition to UW’s early registration efforts, the city clerk’s office will hold early voting on campus from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2.