Young, first-time voter urging people to make their voices heard

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) – Turnout for the spring primary won’t be as big as April.

But it still brought people out, including a young, first-time voter.

“Honestly, my mom just said, ‘hey, do you wanna go out and vote?,” Onalaska High School senior Christian de Boer said. “‘You should never miss a chance to be in an election and make your vote heard.'”

Boer’s decision to vote in the Onalaska primary mayoral race was an easy one.

“So I said, ‘okay,'” de Boer said. “And, we’re here.”

It turns out de Boer enjoyed his first-time voting.

“I like the feeling of like, you’re in your area and your making your vote,” de Boer said. “It’s cool.”

de Boer came to the polls prepared.

“My school actually did a registering session where all the seniors who are 18 went into a computer lab, and we all registered to vote online,” de Boer said.

Registering ahead of time can be a key part of getting a higher turnout.

“I think it helps give the candidates an assurance that that’s who the community really wants,” Onalaska city clerk Cari Burmaster said.

Those who vote early could actually make voter participation higher.

A study from the Annual Review of Political Science shows that casting your vote before election day increases voter turnout up to four percent.

“It’s just convenient for people,” Burmaster said. “If they have something going on particularly it gives them that option to get their vote counted.”

Voting early especially matters in local elections.

“They’re the ones setting the budget for the community, which is basically your tax base,” Burmaster said.

And de Boer understands it’s critical to vote whether its absentee or in person.

“I think that it’s very important to make your voice heard in this system of government,” de Boer said.

Burmaster says more voters than usual came out in Onalaska for the primary because of the race for mayor.

She expected a 20 to 25 percent turnout rate, which is higher for a primary.