Voter turnout could be the highest in decades
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — Voter turnout for the Nov. 6 primary election could be the largest in decades; and this includes high turnout in Portage County.
Voter Registration Day was held on Sept. 25, a record 800,000 people registered to vote on a national scale. This number is drastic when compared to just 154,500 in 2014.
According to electproject.org, the numbers of mid-term voters are projected to be some of the highest since the 60s, when the nation was also going through a time of social unrest, similar to the current divisive political climate. At the time of this publication, over 12 million Americans have already voted.
On the local level, Mayor Mike Wiza has stated that the city clerk has predicted an increase of voter turnout by up to 30 percent, with approximately 1,200 already casting a ballot.
“It’s important to get out there and vote because without that nothing changes,” said Wiza. “Whether you like — or don’t like — what’s going on, this is your opportunity to have some say in it.”
Voters will not only face the statewide choice of Governor between Republican incumbent Scott Walker and Democrat challenger Tony Evers, but a slew of contests to choose the future District 3 Congressional Representative, U.S. Senator, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and contested Assembly positions in District 70 and 72.
Just as important, are the referendum questions which will determine the future of the Portage County Health Care Center, funding for Stevens Point Public Schools, and advisory questions on whether or not dark store loopholes should exist, and whether or not medical marijuana should be legalized in the state.
District 71 Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is running unopposed this election, and encourages those who haven’t planned on voting yet, to be a part of what could be a massive voter turnout.
“Your vote is your voice. The best way to create the kind of community and state you want to live in is to vote,” said Shankland. “Check your registration status, sample ballot, and polling location at myvote.wi.gov. I encourage everyone to exercise their rights and participate in their government – after all, it’s only as good as we make it!”
“Our responsibilities to both the past and the future come together in the voting booth,” said District 24 Senator Patrick Testin. (R-Stevens Point) “Previous generations secured our right to vote, and future generations are counting on us to use that right wisely. It’s up to each of us to be informed and to make our voices heard. I’d encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote this November 6th.”
While Wisconsin scores historically low in mid-term turnouts, this year’s primary elections saw bigger voter turnout on both sides of the partisan fence — meaning Tuesday’s numbers could potentially be record-breaking in America’s Dairyland.
According to the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School’s 2018 Fall National Youth Poll, 40 percent of voters aged 18-29 claim that they will “definitely vote”. This number is double the usual mid-term turnout, around 20 percent.
Regardless of age and party, what truly matters is that you show up on Nov. 6 and secure your ballot, even if some are discouraged by the tribal, and sometimes nasty political climate.
“I know some people have been disenfranchised with the whole election process, but you can’t give up — you need to keep chugging along,” said Wiza. “If you feel that things can change; or maybe you like things the way they are, you need to say so.”