Four Minnesota Democrats visit the U to talk voting local

Dziedzic, Ellison and Omar are vying for votes as the three compete in the 2016 elections.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison speaks to students on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 outside of Coffman Union. Minnesota Democrats held a rally encouraging students to get involved and vote.

Chelsea Gortmaker

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison speaks to students on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 outside of Coffman Union. Minnesota Democrats held a rally encouraging students to get involved and vote.

Kevin Beckman

Four of Minnesota’s Democratic politicians visited the University of
Minnesota Friday to encourage students to vote in the Nov. 8 elections.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, state
Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, and state Representative-hopeful Ilhan Omar
gathered together outside Coffman Memorial Union to speak with students about
this year’s elections and issues important to students.

Dziedzic, Ellison and Omar are vying for votes as the three compete in
the 2016 elections. Ellison is running for a sixth term in the U.S. House,
representing Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. Dziedzic is competing in
the state Senate race for District 60, and Omar hopes to claim victory in District
60B’s state House race.

Franken, whose term expires in 2020 encouraged those in attendance to
vote Democrat in national and local races.

“It was a really great event,” Franken said. “I hope it inspires some
people to … vote.”

Franken said he sometimes worry about students voting, but that he was
confident in the crowd he saw on campus today.

“It’s important to do these things,” he said.

Ellison, a 1990 graduate of the University’s law school, encouraged students to
recognize the importance of their votes.

“Young people have a lot riding on this election,” Ellison said. “This
election really has a big impact on anybody between 25 on down. The real
question is, ‘can we mobilize that student vote?’”

Dziedzic, who is running against Legal Marijuana Now candidate Marty
Super, said students should communicate with legislators about the relevance of
the University to the state as a whole.

“I think U students need to get out and vote,” Dziedzic said. “You need
to go … and tell legislators that the U is important to your education.”

Omar is running against Abdimalik Askar, a Republican television
producer who suspended his campaign in August. She said she wants to emphasize
college affordability, the state’s opportunity gap and criminal justice reform.

“I’m excited to encourage students to not only cast their ballot, but to get involved in the next four days,” Omar said. “We want to have a record turnout with young people this year to send a clear message that our voices count and our voices matter.”

Omar said she hopes this election will return majority control of the state
House to the DFL.

“We’ve been really working hard in making sure everybody in all of those
communities understand that this is a process for them,” she said. “If they
want to see change in their districts, they must come out.”

Political science sophomore Apoorva Malarvannan said important issues
for her in this election are foreign policy, sustainability discussions and the
handling of sexual assaults on campus, and encouraged students and other voters
to be engaged in this election.

“We have probably one of the most superficial election cycles in recent
history,” she said. “We are students at a very large public university. We are
getting an education, and that means we have the privilege and opportunity to
use that education to construct that dialogue.”

Braxton Haake, president of the school’s College Democrats, said Hillary Clinton’s
campaign coordinated with the group to get student volunteers organized. He
said he hopes the event will inspire students who might not vote otherwise.

“Kids are excited,” he said. “We’re hoping to reach some students who
maybe are still unsure about voting … we just want to make it as easy as
possible for them and give them all the information we can.”

Aisha Mohamud, a Somali-American sociology sophomore, said she was inspired
by her local representatives to vote this year, adding that the results of
local elections affect everyone in the community.

“Everyone has an opinion,” she said. “Regardless of what that opinion
is, go and express it. These things matter and we can all set the tone for our
futures.”