GOSHEN COUNTY – Chloe Haas, a 22-year-old graduate student at the University of North Dakota’s satellite campus in Casper, recently made the trip back to LaGrange to vote in the 2020 Presidential election.
Sporting a fresh “I voted” sticker from the Goshen County Courthouse, Haas said she voted in 2016, the year she turned 18, so this is not her first time at the polls, but it still “feels really good to vote.”
“I get excited clicking through the machine to vote and clicking through my selections,” Haas said. “I know it’s one way to have a really strong voice in our country.”
People ages 18-29 are commonly the demographic identified as least likely to vote. This was true of the 2016 election, when 46.1% of citizens in this youngest age group turned out, the group with the lowest voter turnout, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
2020 is poised to be the year that rhetoric changes.
Southeast High School Senior Reece Robertson, 18, will vote for the first time on Election Day. In his 8 a.m. Modern American Studies class where students learn about government and politics, he said casting a vote is something he’s been looking forward to “for a long time.”
Robertson wears a Trump 2020 gaiter face covering as he discusses current events with his classmates and his teacher, Andrea Eisenbarth. It’s no secret that he is politically conservative, he said, and he’s always ready to share his opinion. He describes himself as outspoken, but he doesn’t see a future in politics. After graduating next spring, he plans to go to college and eventually, medical school.
“I’m a really politically outspoken person, but I could never handle being in the political field,” he said.
His family, on the other hand, has strong political ties in Wyoming. His stepfather, Ed Buchanan, Wyoming Secretary of State, oversees the statewide election in which Robertson will cast his first vote.
“He’s been kind of a figure in my life and an influential person,” Robertson said.
Buchanan has influenced Robertson’s politics, but he said he doesn’t blindly accept his stepfather’s views as his own. He also enjoys talking politics with friends and classmates who don’t share the same views, he said, though his social studies class where they primarily share viewpoints doesn’t have liberal voices to counter his own.
“I like seeing what the other side has to say,” Robertson said.
Haas had similar sentiments. Her father, Kirk Haas, is chairman of the Goshen County Republican Party, but she said she likes to talk with friends who think differently.
She said her life is primarily taken up by school, but when she comes home, she likes to get back into politics.
“Going to meetings with my parents, or politically focused get-togethers with friends,” Chloe Haas said. “And whenever I can, I try to attend at least a day or two of the state convention with my parents. Politics is always a topic of conversation in our house.”
She and Makenna Greenwald, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Wyoming originally from Goshen County, were involved in Republican Harriet Hageman’s gubernatorial campaign in 2018 before Governor Mark Gordon eventually won the GOP primary.
Greenwald registered to vote in Albany County, knowing she’d be at school on Nov. 3.
“I wanted to do some more research on the local people running (before voting),” she said. “Not only voting in national elections but taking an active role in local and state elections are really important as well. Staying informed is really important for us, because those policies that people enact have a real effect on us here in Wyoming.”
Robertson acknowledged that some of his high school classmates might not yet realize why they need to be informed about or engage in politics. He sees it as a necessity, especially as they enter the so-called real world next spring, even if they are too young to cast a vote in 2020.
“Now that we're all seniors, I feel like a bunch of them in my class are starting to finally realize this is going to affect our lives,” Robertson said.