Minnesota Student Association encourages voter turnout today

JP Leider

At residence halls around campus today, members of the Minnesota Student Association will be tabling in an effort to increase voter turnout among University students.

One of the best ways to increase voter turnout in residence halls is to inform students that they’re already registered to vote, said Christina Baldwin, MSA’s Legislative Affairs Committee chairwoman.

Baldwin said a majority of residence hall students, some community advisers included, don’t know they’re registered through their residence hall.

Students should be interested in all elections because they are affected at every level of government, she said, and the way to make student issues heard is by voting.

“If we get students to vote, politicians on all levels will start catering to younger people and not just the older crowd,” Baldwin said.

Students may find their polling place at the Secretary of State’s Internet site at http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Those not registered to vote can bring a photo ID with their current address.

If a student doesn’t have a photo ID with their current address, they may bring a utility bill with their current address and any photo ID. Students may also bring a registered voter from their neighborhood to vouch for them.

While MSA has been pushing for a larger undergraduate turnout in today’s election, members of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly have focused their energies elsewhere.

Last year, GAPSA was involved in the races through a coalition with MSA, said Amy Thornton, GAPSA vice president for public affairs.

“Unfortunately, this year isn’t a major election,” she said.

Although the mayoral election is important, Thornton said, turnout in odd-year elections is significantly lower.

In addition, she said, most graduate and professional students have previously registered to vote.

Thornton said GAPSA is focusing on national issues, like the college access and opportunity act of 2005, HR 609, which would significantly cut aid to higher education.

MSA vice president Colin Schwensohn said it is difficult to predict voter turnout for today’s election.

“I understand that when it’s a presidential election, it’s a big year, and people turn out to vote more so than in odd years,” he said.

But Schwensohn said he hopes MSA’s efforts will help bring attention to today’s elections and boost voter turnout.