Will Young Voters Hit the Polls?

By: Brock Bergey
By: Brock Bergey

More than 750,000 Wisconsin voters fall into an age group referred to as "Generation Y". They're 18 to 29 years old and most often considered to be the least likely voters.

18-year-old Matthew Wiswell is practicing up.

"You turn 18 and it's just one more of those little freedoms you get," says the McFarland senior.

On Tuesday, Wiswell's vote will truly count. But, on this day, he's taking part in a mock election--complete with voting booths and photocopied ballots.

"You get the whole feeling of it," he says, "Which I think is cool."

But, the numbers show many young voters chose to stay home on Election day.

"I do think we tend to get overlooked because a lot of kids are like, we don't care what our vote is," says Lauren Sladek, also 18.

In the 2004 Presidential Election, 65% of Wisconsin 18-29 year olds voted. In the last midterm election, in 2002, that number was much lower at 48%.

"I think it's a great responsibility now that you're 18 and you have a chance to make a difference in the world," says Sladek.

The McFarland senior is anxious to make her real picks and says done her homework. That's exactly what political science teacher Audrey Damon-Wynne likes to hear.

"We try the best we can to educate them, not only about the nuts and bolts of government, but how it affects their personal lives and why they should care," says Damon-Wynne.

Students at McFarland are required to take a political science course their junior year.

"They really point out that we do make a difference and our vote really does count," says Wiswell.

Not all the McFarland students are old enough to legally vote Tuesday. But, first-time voters like Matthew Wiswell and Lauren Sladek say this mock election is setting the stage.

"I definitely think I will continue to vote," concludes Wiswell.

McFarland mock election results from grades 9-12 are as follows:
*Jim Doyle won the governor's race
*Students voted "no" to the marriage amendment
*And also said "no" to the death penalty

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