Early voter registration ends Tuesday

Despite an increase in the 2008 presidential election, young voters historically do not participate in midterm elections.

by Sadelle Schroeder

With the 2010 State General Election Day drawing near, University students are tuning in to the debates and discussions,  and soon they will use their votes to voice their opinions.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), in the 2004 presidential election, 18-29 year olds made up 18.4 percent of the eligible voting population, but only 49 percent of these citizens cast a vote.

During the 2008 presidential election, however, the number of young voters increased substantially. An estimated 22 million Americans under the age of 30 voted in the 2008 election, an increase of around 2 million bringing the turnout rate up to 51 percent.

In midterm election years, the percentage of young voters had been declining since 1974, the first election to include 18-year-olds. In 2002 and 2006, participation rose slightly to 25.5 percent, but still trailed the 1974 turnout of 29.5 percent, according to CIRCLE. Above-30 participation was at 53.7 percent in 2006.

According to the Office of Minnesota Secretary of StateâÄôs website, eligible voters

  • must be 18 years old by Election Day
  • must be a citizen of the United States
  • must have been a Minnesota resident for 20 days immediately preceding Election Day
  • cannot have an outstanding felony conviction
  • have not been sentenced to court-ordered guardianship
  • have not been declared incompetent by a court of law

First time University student voters can pre-register by completing a Voter Registration Application and submitting it by October 12 to a local election official at the Hennepin County Government Center. Voters who do not pre-register can do so on Election Day at a polling location, but must be able to provide proof of residence.

Students at the University who are eligible to vote in more than one location can choose which location they prefer to vote, but cannot vote in more than one location. Students voting using the absentee ballot must complete an Absentee Ballot Application, available on the Secretary of StateâÄôs website, and will be mailed a ballot.