Residence hall students might not be registered to vote

Economics freshman Kirsten Johnson registered to vote for the upcoming election during the Welcome Week in September, but for all she knows, sheâÄôs still not registered. She never received a confirmation card telling her she had been registered and where her polling place was going to be. âÄúIâÄôve been thinking about trying to register again,âÄù she said. Johnson isnâÄôt alone. A campuswide e-mail was sent out last week warning residence hall students who signed up to vote during Welcome Week that if they havenâÄôt gotten a confirmation of their voting status in the mail, their registration cards might not have been received by the Secretary of StateâÄôs office. The deadline for pre-registering was Oct. 14. Welcome Week coordinator James Liberman said the only group that officially worked with the University of Minnesota during Welcome Week to register students to vote was the Minneosta Public Interest Research Group. Liberman said he was contacted over the summer by a number of groups, includinggroups from various political candidates and other nonprofits, but the University âÄúwanted to keep it centralized and wanted to use a well-known group.âÄù MPIRG campus organizer Joe Eggers said âÄú99.9 percentâÄù of students who signed up through the organization are registered to vote. âÄúWeâÄôre telling people theyâÄôre registered to vote,âÄù Eggers said. âÄúI donâÄôt know if theyâÄôre going to get a card.âÄù If students arenâÄôt getting their cards, Deputy Manager of Hennepin County Elections Kurt Hoffman said itâÄôs because the Secretary of StateâÄôs office is overwhelmed with the âÄúsheer volumeâÄù of incoming registrations. âÄúTheyâÄôre going out in small numbers,âÄù Hoffman said. âÄúItâÄôs just a fact that there have been so many registrations that they have gotten behind with mailing it out.âÄù Eggers said it normally takes three weeks for cards to be delivered in the mail, but with the mass number of new registrations this year, theyâÄôre taking anywhere from four to six weeks and sometimes longer. More than 80 percent of eligible voters in Minnesota are now registered, Eggers said, âÄúan all time record.âÄù Still, Hoffman said if students arenâÄôt sure whether theyâÄôre registered to vote, they should call the appropriate Election Center phone number and have them confirm it. Although the confirmation cards are useful to have because they tell where an individualâÄôs polling place is, Hoffman said theyâÄôre not a requirement in order to vote. Elections judge Tim OâÄôBrien , who volunteered to register student voters before the state deadline, said if students havenâÄôt received their cards, they should expect the worst. They may have to wait in line to register on Election Day. âÄúStudents have to prove who they are, and they have to prove where they live,âÄù OâÄôBrien said. In order to register to vote on Election Day, residence hall students must bring a driverâÄôs license or student identification card. University Housing and Residence Life provides election commissioners for both the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses with the names and addresses of University students. Voters registering day-of can also prove their residency by bringing another registered voter with them who can vouch for where they live.