Vote in today’s primary, shape general election

To reflect on the role of government in our lives is to realize how pervasive and central government is to the way we live and think. In fact, one could argue that our government system largely defines who we are as Americans and dictates most of our actions. Most immediately, one day before the anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, we contemplate and discuss how the U.S. government is shaping the nation’s response – our response – to the tragic events of Sept. 11. However, we must also remind ourselves that our government institutions and their regulations, in one way or another, help determine the actions we take and the priorities we place on a selection of diverse but important issues. For example, how much we work, how well we collectively care for the less fortunate in our society, how well Social Security is funded, the state of our environment, the relative safety of our food and the tuition we pay as University of Minnesota students are all largely determined by some level of government in the United States. It is sobering to realize that our government system dominates so much of our lives.

However, because our government is run by the people on behalf of the people, this systematic domination should not be disquieting. Today is primary election day in Minnesota and in other states across the nation. If current voting trends continue, roughly one in seven of you reading this editorial will vote today. In other words, only 15 percent of The Minnesota Daily’s readers will exercise their most basic democratic right and help choose who will appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. Given the dominating role of government in our lives, it is disturbing to know that so few will determine the roster of candidates who will shape the lives of all of us in the future.

Fortunately, for those readers interested in helping decide which legislative, gubernatorial and local candidates will appear on the general election ballot, voting in Minnesota has never been easier. To vote in the primary, you need to be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen, and a Minnesota resident since Aug. 21. In order to make voting more convenient, Minnesota allows for voter registration on Election Day at your polling place. If you are a student, all you need to register at your polling place is your U Card and a registration or fee statement with your current address or a recent utility bill with your current address. Also, a Minnesota driver’s license or ID card with your current address is sufficient. For more information on voting eligibility and Election Day registration, see the Minnesota Voters’ Guide 2000 at www.sos.state.mn.us/ election/vg98.html. With a quick Web search, you can also determine your polling place. Both Minnesota’s secretary of state and e-democracy, a local non-profit organization, have poll place finders on their Web sites. Check out http://enrupload sos.state.mn.us/ oss/ or http:// MyBallot.net for more polling place information. Veteran Minnesota voters should also check these sites to confirm that their polling place has not been changed because of precinct redistricting that took place last year. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Finally, to find a list of candidates in your precinct and their positions on various issues both http://MyBallot.net and the “Star Tribune” Voter Guide at http://www.startribune.com/

stories/587/ are excellent sources.

Recently, Minnesota’s secretary of state, Mary Kiffmeyer, stated, “To honor Sept. 11, go vote on Sept. 10.” This is a very troubling statement. If our only reason for voting is to honor the dead, then democracy in this nation is vulnerable and degenerate. Given that we are all concerned about the direction of the “War on Terrorism,” given that tuition at the University rises without fail every year due to budgetary decisions made at the Minnesota legislature and given the fact that our government generally dominates the quality of our lives, voting shouldn’t be seen as a solemn duty but as an opportunity to help define our future. With any luck, most of you will make the most of this small but significant opportunity today.