Minnesota holds primaries today

Stephanie Kudrle

The general election might be a month and a half away, but students itching to get out to the polls can do so today for the primary election.

Voting locations will be open on campus from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For the University area, candidates for the congressional election will be decided on this ballot.

Long time U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., is being challenged for the Democratic endorsement by Minneapolis resident Dick Franson.

Sabo has represented the Minneapolis area since 1978, but Franson said he thinks Sabo is an “obstructionist” and tries to prevent things from getting done in Congress.

“He voted against (President George W. Bush) 80 percent of the time,” Franson said. “I’m an American, and I think we should support the president during war and peace.”

Franson, a Vietnam and Korean War veteran, said he is an advocate for veterans’ issues, universal health-care coverage and improvement in K-12 standards.

Although running for the Democratic endorsement, Franson describes himself as a conservative Democrat. He said he supports Bush, is against abortion and wants a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.

Sabo said in a statement that the country has serious work to be done concerning the war on terrorism, the economy and ending the war in Iraq.

He said student issues such as improving the job market and increasing the Pell Grant are important to him.

“We must take a different approach to turning around the economy so that students have job opportunities when they graduate,” he said in the statement.

Voter Registration

In addition to voting, students can use the primary to get registered for the general election, said Mike Dean, grassroots coordinator for the University’s Legislative Network.

“We’re encouraging students to get preregistered for the polls,” Dean said. “We often have long lines on Election Day because people register on the same day.”

In the 2002 election, some students were even turned away from the polls because of improper identification for registration or because the lines were too long for them to wait, Dean said.

The University and Minneapolis have been working to fix that problem by increasing the number of voting locations on campus and by preregistering students, he said.

In addition to registering at the primary, students can request a registration form online or attend a voter-registration drive put on by several student groups this fall, Dean said.

In the primary and general elections, students living in the superblock residence halls will be able to register and vote at Centennial Hall, said Susan Griffin, director of elections and registration for Minneapolis.

A list with the names of students living in the superblock will be provided, so all voters need is their University IDs, she said.

Students elsewhere on campus, or within the district’s boundaries, will be able to vote at Coffman Union.

In order to register for the general election, students not living in the residence halls will need to bring a valid driver’s license and a utility bill that proves residency.

Griffin said Minneapolis is strict on which bills can be used. The bill has to be in the student’s name and from cable, electric, phone, gas, garbage or water and sewer, she said.

If there are no bills in the student’s name, Griffin said, residents who are already registered to vote in the precinct can vouch for another person.

“A person can vouch for you and sign a voucher’s card, which is like an oath,” she said. “It’s a good route for students to go.”

While it seems easy, vouchers who give false information can be charged with a felony, Griffin said.

But even if students don’t want to vote in the primary, Griffin said, voters should take advantage of the polls to make sure everything is set for the general election.

“It will be helpful, because it will tell you what you need to be able to vote,” she said. “That way you will be ready to go for the general election.”