Campus libraries allow students to register to vote

Stephanie Kudrle

Voter-registration efforts are under way at campus libraries for students confused about where, when and how to register to vote in the general election.

Starting this week, most libraries on campus will have voter-registration cards available for students looking to avoid long lines on Election Day.

The main libraries on each campus, Wilson Library on the West Bank, Walter Library on the East Bank and Magrath Library in St. Paul, will have the cards at the circulation desks.

Allowing students to register at the libraries will hopefully reduce the number of students registering on Election Day and encourage a large turnout, said Mike Dean, grassroots coordinator for the Legislative Network.

“It will make our job easier and give students more opportunities to register,” he said.

“We’re trying to get people motivated and excited about the upcoming election, because it will have a huge impact on the (University).”

The effort to preregister students is due, in part, to long lines of students trying to register at the polls in 2002, Dean said.

During that election, which was not a presidential race, there were 3,047 voters preregistered in the University precinct. On Election Day, 1,665 more registered at the polls.

“For most precincts registering people on Election Day, that’s very high,” said Suzanne Griffin, director of elections and voter registration for Minneapolis.

Griffin said she is expecting a high voter turnout in the University precinct for this election. In the last presidential race in 2000, the University precinct had a 57 percent turnout.

The neighborhoods around the University, where many students live, had turnouts between 74 percent and 76 percent. She said Minneapolis’ turnout as a whole was approximately 68 percent.

“The turnout will at least be where 2000 was at, if not more,” she said. “There is so much attention on the election right now.”

The low voter turnout for last week’s primary does not accurately represent the number of students who will vote in the general election, Griffin said.

Only 53 people voted in the University’s two precincts, at Coffman Union and Centennial Hall. Although students could have voted in other places, Griffin said, those numbers were normal for the University precincts.

“Especially in this area, there is not an interest in local races, like the school board,” she said.

Larry Jacobs, University political science professor and political analyst, said student turnout for the primary in the University precinct was very low, and he hopes students will be more interested in the general election.

“There’s a lot at stake in this election that matters to students,” Jacobs said. “But students’ track record has not been great.’

Nationally, student turnout for elections is approximately 23 percent, he said.

“This year could be an exception,” he said. “Efforts to reach students and register them have had a lot of success.”