WWF campaign seeks to register young voters

Jamie Yuccas

The kick-off to the Smackdown Your Vote! campaign took place on the steps of the State Capitol on Monday, as the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, along with the World Wrestling Federation and state political leaders gathered to promote a 2001 youth-voter registration campaign.

Headlining the event was Kurt Angle, 1996 Olympic wrestling champion, proclaimed WWF superstar and chairman for Smackdown Your Vote.

After pulling up in a black stretch limousine, Angle casually jumped out and walked up the steps of the Capitol where he addressed a crowd of around 100.

“The reason why I’m here is that I made a commitment to the WWF and I’ve been an active voter since I was 18 years old,” Angle said.

Angle went on to inform the crowd that Smackdown is a national campaign running from now until November.

The campaign will hit 28 states as well as Washington, D.C. The WWF will be hosting live events at each stop where young people will have the opportunity to register to vote.

Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, also spoke at the event, praising the organization for its commitment and success in getting the state’s youth to vote last year. Minnesota had the highest youth-voter turnout in 2000 and Sertich said he hopes the organization will promote the effort further.

Last year MPIRG – as a part of the Youth Vote 2000 coalition – registered over 10,000 young voters in Minnesota alone. The Smackdown campaign registered 150,000 people nationally last year in barely more than two months.

This year the organizations are looking to double that number.

“In an off election year it might be difficult, but we’re going to try to get young voters interested by having a mayoral debate for St. Paul and Minneapolis around October,” said MPIRG spokeswoman Monica Meyer. “That event lets young people feel good that the candidates are actually listening to them, and (students can) hear each candidate’s issues, and it forces the candidates to listen to the youths.”

MPIRG plans on registering young voters this summer and fall at campuses, malls, churches, concerts, and sporting events.

Several organizations have become members of Smackdown Your Vote! including The National Secretaries of State, The National Foundation for Women Legislators, Project Vote Smart, Youth-e-vote, Youth Vote Coalition, and the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.

Voters can register online at wwfvote.com, or contact MPIRG at 612-627-4035 for more information or to volunteer in their efforts.

On Nov. 6, those living in the residence halls or nearby will vote at The Minnesota Department of Health at 717 Delaware Street SE in Minneapolis.