Eaton: An open letter to unregistered, out-of-state students

Minnesota can make sure your voice is heard.


Emily Eaton

The political climate is more than a little toxic at the moment, and if you’re not someone already knee deep in the swamp, it can be hard to convince yourself that it is worth it to take the plunge. It can be even harder if you are not from a state with significant pull in the election. That said, this goes out to all of the out-of-state students who haven’t registered to vote and weren’t planning on doing so.

Minnesota has voted blue in every presidential election since 1976. This year, however, things are a little different. Hillary Clinton barely eked out a victory in the state in 2016, winning by a mere 1.5%, or roughly 44,000 votes. Minnesota was a somewhat overlooked member of the Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin coalition of strongly purple states that went more red than expected that year. And so, with a mere 10 electoral votes, Minnesota joins the ranks of the swing states.

The land of 10,000 lakes is far more crucial in this election than many of us have considered. Even if Joe Biden were to win back Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, losing Minnesota could lose him the election.

If you are one of the nearly 8,000 nonresident, nonreciprocity students (meaning that you are not from Minnesota, Wisconsin or one of the Dakotas) across the University of Minnesota system, you have the opportunity to influence one of the most contentious elections in our history. Thanks to Minnesota’s voting laws, attending the University of Minnesota basically makes you eligible to register to vote here. You can register online or in person on election day; all you need is your U Card and your student fee statement, which can be shown on an electronic device. If you live in on-campus housing, odds are all you need to provide is your ID. If you lost your U Card, you can even use a driver’s license from a different state. You don’t even have to register with a particular party.

In 2018, students at the University of Minnesota had the highest voter turnout rate of any other large, public, four-year university, with a systemwide voting rate of 56%. I challenge you to raise the bar even higher this election. College students are an untapped powerhouse of political pull. It’s time to show you care about your future, the future of your friends and family and the future of this nation.

It’s time to mask up and go vote.

For more information on how to register to vote, head to the Secretary of State’s website.