Why Students Should Vote

by Will Dammann

When I walk down the halls of the Capitol building in St. Paul, I make sure everyone knows I am a student. Sporting a light blue Patagonia hat with a backpack over my shoulder, I wear my maroon U sweatshirt with that big, beautiful golden stitched “M.” Periodically, I’ll get asked to testify on certain proposals in committees or get dragged over to the Capitol photographers because legislators want a picture with a student. I love these moments because they’re my opportunity to talk with officials about the importance of funding the University of Minnesota and supporting students. Yet the reaction I often receive from legislators shocks me: “Why should I care about how students will vote? They all will vote in Minneapolis anyway, and it won’t make a bit of a difference for me.” When I hear this sentiment, I know we have to change the minds of these legislators — they need to care for the interests of University students.

So this year, MSA’s the Government and Legislative Affairs team started working to remind legislators that students matter. Indeed, our campus has enough students to swing any election in this state. First on our agenda was making voting easier for students — we knew students don’t need to deal with school, work, maintaining a social life and navigating the complicated voting process all at once. That’s why we brought Turbovote to campus which allows students to register to vote and request an absentee ballot all in one place. So far, the results have been phenomenal: We’ve registered over 4,000 students on the Twin Cities campus — and we aren’t even done. You can still register to vote at umn.turbovote.org. Even if you’re unsure about voting, considering the national political landscape, there are still a ton of local races that could use your vote. Early registration ends Oct. 18, but Minnesota allows same-day voter registration so you can still go to a polling location and vote. However, it’s way easier and convenient to register early, so go to umn.turbovote.org and do it now!

We need to make sure the power of the student vote is put to full use. We need to make sure that student issues are political issues. We need to make sure that student voices are being represented when the Legislature is debating how to use a multi-billion-dollar surplus or other decisions that will greatly affect our community.

If you aren’t sure where your legislator stands on the University of Minnesota, Tweet/Facebook/Email them! We don’t have any excuses anymore — we can hold our elected officials accountable from the tips of our fingers. The only way for us to be heard is by proving that we have the power to vote someone in or out of office.

So register to vote and request an absentee ballot by Oct.18! Make sure your voice is heard and student interests are promoted this November!

Will Dammann

Director of Government and Legislative Affairs, Minnesota Student Association

Editor’s Note: This letter has been edited for style conventions.