Registration rates for voters aged 18 to 29 have significantly increased in Wisconsin over the last seven months, according to a new TargetSmart analysis, presaging the increased impact young Wisconsinites may have on the upcoming midterm and presidential elections.

Using February 14, 2018, as a reference point — the date on which the Parkland, Florida, shooting happened, which spurred a youth-led movement to register young voters across the country — TargetSmart’s analysis found that the share of youth registrants in Wisconsin has increased from 8.43% to 14.07% of new registrants — a 5.64% surge.

TargetSmart’s analysis also found that the share of youth registrants nationwide has increased by 2.16%, a potentially impactful increase in youth enrollment.

“A new generation of political leaders emerged in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy,” said TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier. “We witnessed their ability to organize in Wisconsin and across the country as massive crowds took to the streets for the March for Our Lives, and now we’re seeing a quantifiable impact from that organizing. It remains to be seen how many of these younger registrants will cast a ballot in November, but they are poised to have a louder voice than ever in these critical midterm elections.”

This spike in voter registration activity comes on the heels of grassroots movements to address gun violence issues. A recent poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, conducted in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, found that 64% of 18-29 year-olds favor common sense gun reforms.

“As the largest eligible voting bloc, young people have the power to make the difference in critical races across the country, and it is clear that they are energized like never before to make their voices heard,” said Heather Hargreaves, NextGen America Executive Director. “We have seen this passion firsthand, and has already registered over 4,100 young people to vote in Wisconsin this year alone. We are organizing everyday to ensure that young voters head to the polls in November and ultimately create long-lasting political power necessary for progressive change in our country.”

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Lee Matz