Dems rally at U to get students to vote

Kari Petrie

When former Gov. Jesse Ventura was elected in 1998, he garnered the highest percentage of youth vote in state history – 11 percent, a party official said.

“The reality is if 30 percent of people in the 18- to 24-year-old age group voted, they would determine the outcome of every election,” said Mike Erlandson, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman.

In a final push to get more students registered to vote, Erlandson and Minnesota College Democrats held a rally Thursday on Northrop Mall. Approximately 150 students attended the event, which included a speech from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and a performance from Minneapolis band Olympic Hopefuls.

With the Minnesota voter preregistration deadline Tuesday, the event informed students of their voting options, said Chris Montana, University student and Minnesota College Democrats president.

“We can’t afford to lose people who want to vote but don’t know how,” he said.

Minnesota residents can register on Election Day, Nov. 2.

Tony Richter, vice president of College Republicans, said his group is knocking on doors and approaching people on campus to register potential voters.

The rally is a good first step in getting people interested, Richter said. But he questioned whether the event would gain support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.

“You have to be excited not just about a band, but about a candidate,” Richter said.

Several students attending said they were still unsure for whom to vote.

Journalism sophomore Miyong Kim said she is using the debates, newspapers and the Internet to learn about candidates.

Although Kim said she is undecided on whom to support, she said comparing President George W. Bush’s performances in the 2000 and 2004 debates is telling.

“Bush looks worse this time around,” she said. “It makes me nervous about what happened over the last four years to make him less confident.”

Still, she said, she thinks Bush is much more charismatic than Kerry, who has promising ideas.

“But I’m not convinced if he will follow through with them,” Kim said.

English literature sophomore Andrew Ranallo said he also is unsure whom to support.

While he likes that Bush is straight-forward with his beliefs, he feels Kerry is more intelligent, he said.

Students at the event said more people their age are interested in politics, but Krissi Humiston, an interior design junior, said she’s unsure how many will actually vote.

“I guess we’ll see,” she said.