A little horsepower behind the vote

UWL student Jack Lawlis helped register 700 students to vote prior to the 2018 mid-term elections. Photo by Jim Jorstad on behalf of the Driftless Voter Coalition. He is continuing those efforts to get students set to vote in the 2020 spring election.

UWL student Jack Lawlis helped register 700 students to vote prior to the 2018 mid-term elections. Photo by Jim Jorstad on behalf of the Driftless Voter Coalition. He is continuing those efforts to get students set to vote in the 2020 spring election.

Student leads voter registration efforts with goal of surpassing UWL’s high 2018 turnout

UW-La Crosse boasted a strong voter turnout in the 2018 mid-term election. Nearly 50% of students voted, according to a national study. Will that high rate of participation continue for the Wisconsin presidential primary on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, — and beyond?

One UWL student is determined to keep campus civically engaged and voting. UWL Senior Jack Lawlis has collaborated with the La Crosse city clerk, as well as various campus partners, to make all UWL residence halls designated registration sites leading up to the April primary. (White Hall is the only hall not a site due to renovations underway.)

Lawlis will set up a table to help students register to vote in university residence hall lobbies through Nov. 25. He’ll be in a different residence hall every Monday and Wednesday from 5-7 p.m., starting with Angel Hall on Monday, Oct. 28.

“The responsibility is on us to make it as easy as possible for people to engage in the civic process — that is what democracy is all about,” says Lawlis.

Wisconsin has same-day voter registration, but registering voters ahead of election day eases the process and ultimately makes lines much shorter, explains Lawlis.

Leading up to the 2018 mid-term elections, Lawlis led a similar voter registration effort. Along with collaborators across campus, he helped register 700 UWL students to vote. That push is reflected in the strong voter turnout in the mid-term. A total of 4,796 UWL students voted, or about 47%, compared to 39% across all institutions nationally who participated in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE).

Lawlis says he has received support on campus and in the community to facilitate voter registration efforts, including the city clerk who will accompany him to voter registration sites in halls. The League of Women Voters, UWL Information Technology Services and UWL Residence Life have also provided support.

Become a CEEP Fellow – furthering voter registration, education

Jack Lawlis, a senior political science and public administration major, is motivated by the idea of “furthering the common good by bringing about more civic engagement.” That’s why a little over a year ago Lawlis became a CEEP Fellow. CEEP — or Campus Election Engagement Project — is a national non-partisan, non-profit organization that aims to foster civic engagement on college campuses, including voter registration efforts and education about the civic process.

Lawlis is currently the only CEEP fellow on campus. He plans to graduate in December, so he aims to recruit a new fellow before the spring semester. Contact Lawlis at lawlis.john@uwlax.edu if interested.

Learn about voter registration, elections

Information on Wisconsin voter registration and upcoming elections is available at Myvote.wi.gov.

Voter participation increases

In the 2018 midterm elections UWL student voter turnout was 47.3% compared to 27.8% in 2014, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE).