Be informed when going to the polls this fall

There are many activities happening on campus to help you make the dive.

Iby Martin Phillips
Guest Columnist

it’s midterm time – not just the tests, but the elections. Election Day, Nov. 7, is just around the corner; it is time to get informed and get it to the polls, my friends.

On Nov. 7 we have the opportunity to cast our ballot for governor, secretary of state, U.S. House and Senate seats, Minnesota House and Senate seats, and many other elected positions.

Groups all over campus are working to register new student voters and encourage participation in our great civic process. Regardless of how hard any group works to register voters, it is up to each one of us to get ourselves registered, learn about the candidates, get to the polls and exercise the amazing right we have to elect our leaders. Voting is much too often taken for granted, especially by the younger folks. In the 2002 elections only 45 percent of people ages 18-29 voted in Minnesota.

People around the world are fighting for the right to vote, while students here choose to sit on the couch and play video games rather than hike to the polls on Election Day.

How is something so absurd happening? Do people not understand that our tuition rates are decided by our elected officials? Our elected officials decide whether or not we will continue our reliance on dirty fossil fuels or invest in clean, renewable energy sources, not to mention the amount of affordable housing available after we leave the dorms, the state of our transit systems, the quality of our education and health care systems along with countless other important issues.

There are many activities happening on campus to help you make the dive into our political system. Minnesota Public Interest Research Group has organized two great candidate debates for University students. Candidates running for secretary of state will go head to head Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in the President’s Room at Coffman Union, and U.S. House District 5 candidates will duke it out on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. in Room 250 in Anderson Hall.

Have an issue you care about? Don’t miss your chance to question the candidates; each debate is open for audience members to ask questions directly to the candidates.

You can also learn about the candidates running for office by going to their Web sites or picking up a voter guide. MPIRG will begin distributing voter guides across campus on Tuesday. Make sure you get yourself a copy. You can get more information about the debates, voter guide and MPIRG at our website, www.mpirg.org.

MPIRG works every year to register voters, hold candidate debates and distribute voter guides based on the belief that while voting is good, informed voting is best. This year’s elections promise to seriously affect the way higher education is funded, whether instant runoff voting will be adopted, the way transportation is financed, how the rising costs of health care will be handled and much more.

So whether this will be your first time voting or you’re best buds with your precinct officials, be sure that your voice is heard this November.

Martin Phillips is on MPIRG’s State Board of Directors and is a Democracy Task Force member. Please send comments to [email protected]