Voters start early in UMN campus area

Although polls are open until 8 p.m. today, some students went to the ballot box early this morning.

Voters make their way into the gym on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at Marcy Open School in Minneapolis.

Ellen Schmidt

Voters make their way into the gym on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at Marcy Open School in Minneapolis.

Austen Macalus

Paige Reno has a tradition on Election Day: she always goes to Al’s Breakfast before heading to the polls. Today, she decided on the blueberry walnut pancakes, a coffee and mostly Democrats down the ballot. 

The University of Minnesota senior headed to University Lutheran Church of Hope in the heart of Dinkytown right after polls opened at 7 a.m. A steady stream of University students like Reno braved the rain and cold to vote Tuesday morning, becoming among the first people to cast a ballot on Election Day near campus. 

Reno, a self-described moderate, said she wanted more balance in government and was concerned about the Republican majority in Congress. 

“Checks and balances is really really important to me,” she said. 

She was most excited to vote for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the popular Democrat running for her third term. 

“I love Amy. I’m so proud of everything she’s done,” Reno said. 

Rishi Sharma, a third-year University student, voted early in the morning because he didn’t want to wait in lines at polls later in the day. 

“I know they’re open until 8 p.m., but I figured [it would be] better to get it done now rather than wait for lines to get long,” he said. “I’m not the most politically active, but I figured it was the right thing to come out here and support the side I tend to support.”

Sharma said he tends to be more liberal. He voted for Democrat Tim Walz, the southern Minnesota congressman running for governor, who represented the area where Sharma grew up. 

“I voted almost all blue today,” Sharma said. 

Third-year student Matthew Pawlak wanted to vote before his classes started. He said climate change was the most important issue on his mind this election. 

“If you look at all climate data right now, we’re at a tipping point,” Pawlak said. “Some candidates, their … ignorance, it’s kind of concerning. We shouldn’t be letting those people make policy.”

Pawlak said the political environment of the last couple years should provide motivation for young people to turn out. 

“We need to have our voices heard right now,” he said. “And I feel as though … Washington and other levels of representation don’t represent many students or the majority of people.”

Rose Slater, a junior at the University, echoed the importance of students voting. 

“This is our country to inherit, so you got to make sure you’re voting for the people that align with your decision,” she said. 

Slater came out to vote early this morning before her full day of classes. 

“I’m usually on campus from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” she said. “Really this is the only time to vote, so at least they open early.”