MSA, MPIRG Get Out the Vote

The Student Association has exclusive door-knocking rights in residence halls.

by Cali Owings

Tasking themselves with the tall order of increasing student voter participation in the mid-term election, members of the Minnesota Student Association partnered with those from Minnesota Public Interest Research Group for a blitz of events before the polls close Tuesday.
Volunteers from MSA and MPIRG will door-knock across campus from the residence halls to off-campus houses and apartments to make sure students know where to vote and what to bring with them.
MSA co-sponsored a gubernatorial debate with The Minnesota Daily on Oct. 22. It also launched Voter Central, a web portal with information for voters including a poll locator. The push to get out the vote comes from the director of strategic communications, Dan Garon, and the legislative affairs committee.
MSA and MPIRG were granted an exclusive contract with the residence halls to be able to have their âÄúDorm StormâÄù on Tuesday, Garon said. Non-residents are not allowed in the dorms except for MSA.
MPIRG has attempted to get into the dorms in previous years to register students to vote but were not allowed in, MPIRG executive director Josh Winters said.
Garon said the string of events and the partnership with MPRIG was a nonpartisan effort to get students to the polls.
MPIRG was a âÄúnatural partner,âÄù Garon said, because MSA has always had great success when working with the organization.
Winters said MPIRG does not endorse candidates but wants to encourage students to vote, especially in mid-term elections.
This yearâÄôs mid-term elections are particularly important because issues of higher education are primarily the concern of the governor and state Legislature, Winters said.
âÄúYou only get one day,âÄù Winters said of voting.
Minnesota has same-day voter registration so students can register to vote at their polling location. Students who register same day need to show proof of residence, which can include a student ID or Minnesota driverâÄôs license or identification card with current address.
If the address on the driverâÄôs license is not current, the voter can supplement it with a document that has his or her name and address, like a utilities bill.
A resident who lives in the same precinct as the voter can also vouch for him or her if they are willing to make a signed oath. A full list of instructions for same-day registration can be found at
Winters said students who decide to vote last minute still have time to educate themselves about the issues.
âÄúVote your values,âÄù he said, encouraging students to assess what they really care about and vote for the candidates that take a stand on those issues.
He said âÄúdown-ballot officesâÄù âÄî the less publicized elected offices like judges âÄî can be intimidating for new voters but they should exercise their voice and work to understand those offices as they become more informed voters.
Sean Niemic, president of Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, said the group has focused on educating students about the candidates by hosting House District 59B and Senate District 59 debates on campus.
Niemic said students still have plenty of time to get to know the candidates and become an informed voter.
CFACT will not participate in any formal Get Out The Vote initiatives, but cancelled their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. Niemic said the meeting was cancelled because the evening is usually the best time for students to vote and didnâÄôt want to inhibit anyoneâÄôs
ability to get to the polls.