Political opportunities abound at U

Coralie Carlson

An election year means more than just political advertisements and mudslinging by candidates; it also means open doors for students to enter the political stage.
From volunteering for a gubernatorial campaign to debating the Asian market crisis or casting a vote in the upcoming elections, chances abound for students to make their political mark this fall.
“This year is the perfect year if you want to get involved in politics,” said Kevin Pomasl, senior in the College of Liberal Arts and state president of the College Democrats. “The opportunities are endless.”
This year’s elections provide a low-commitment avenue for students to enter politics.
Minnesota voters face two upcoming elections: the primary on Sept. 15 and the general election on Nov. 3.
In the primary election, voters choose one official candidate per party to run for each office. For example, Democrats across the state will decide whether Mark Dayton, Mike Freeman, Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III, Doug Johnson or John Marty to run for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate in the general election.
The general election determines which of the candidates will be the final office holder. In addition to the governor’s seat, the national and state House of Representatives, Minnesota attorney general and Hennepin county attorney are among the offices up for grabs.
The League of Women Voters offers a complete list of candidates and offices for both elections, available for free at Target, Mervyn’s California and Dayton’s stores.
Judy Duffy, president of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota, said the voter guides should help students make informed choices.
“Your generation has the most to win and the most to lose,” she said.
University students can register to vote at the ballot booth on election day if they are at least 18 years old and choose to claim their school address as their residence, according to State Election Director Joe Mansky.
Students who prefer to vote in another district of the state can write their county auditor’s office for an absentee ballot before the election and return it before the polls close.
Residence halls post instructions for voting prior to elections and students can contact their city clerk’s office.
For students who want to contribute more than just a ballot, the College Republicans and College Democrats-U-DFL offer venues to partisan politics.
The College Republicans will meet weekly in Coffman Memorial Union, starting with their kick-off meeting Sept. 30 until the November elections.
The group plans to distribute lawn signs and literature for candidates and hold voter registration drives on campus to urge students to cast their ballots.
Republican students scheduled candidates from this district to speak at their meetings. Julien Kubesh, Carlson School of Management sophomore and College Republican president, invited all students to attend regardless of political persuasion.
“If you have a curiosity, pursue it,” he said.
For those students who lean to the left, the College Democrats also hold weekly meetings in Coffman that are open to the public starting on Oct. 1.
Pomasl said the College Democrats, too, look forward to a “boatload” of voter registration, literature drops and speakers.
In addition, these groups can direct students interested in volunteering for campaigns at candidate headquarters and volunteer organizations.
The Undergraduate Political Science Association offers a non-partisan setting for political discussion and learning. This group, which welcomes non-political science majors, holds informal weekly meetings in the Social Sciences Building to discuss topics ranging from international affairs to lobbying at the state capitol.
Rose Miskowiec, political science advisor, said, “Just within the group they have kind of a wealth of knowledge.”