Students not a primary concern

Student voting may be adversely affected by the new primary date.

In order to comply with a new law requiring at least 45 days between a primary and a general election, Minnesota has moved its primary election from Sept. 14 to Aug. 10. This change accommodates those serving in the armed forces and overseas voters who need time to receive and send in their absentee ballots. Ballots received after Election Day cannot be counted. While the goal of increasing absentee voter participation is an admirable one, this decision may drive down participation among other blocs of voters, particularly students. About one-third of University of Minnesota students are from out-of-state, and many of those students spend at least part of the summer in their hometowns. Other students who study abroad for the short summer session can hardly be expected to navigate the complex absentee process during what is, for many of them, their first substantial time out of the country. Many other students, too, understandably unplug from politics and current events over summer vacation. The point here is not that itâÄôs all right for students to get lazy over the summer; itâÄôs that the goal of voting reforms should always make engagement in the political process easier as well as more inclusive. One very easy way to do this would be to move the stateâÄôs primary all the way up to June or May, as many other states have already done. Races across the state âÄî especially the governorâÄôs race âÄî have special significance for students this year because the issue of funding for higher education promises to be at the forefront. For now, students looking to exercise their civic duty must accept the LegislatureâÄôs bad sense of timing and do so in August.