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Smith, Omar hit campus in last-minute young voter rally

This year, a broad coalition of students is working to break the University of Minnesota’s 2018 voter turnout record.
Image by Parker Johnson
A socially-distanced crowd of students listens intently to an address delivered by U.S. Senator Tina Smith and U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at the Knoll on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

In the final hours of their campaign, Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Tina Smith spent about 40 minutes rallying in the knoll area of the University of Minnesota campus Tuesday afternoon to push young voter turnout.

During their Get Out the Vote event, the two DFL lawmakers said the country is in a “reckoning,” and both promised a change they said would be a pivot from Trump’s politics.

The crowd of less than 100 people gathered around Omar and Smith on a small hill near the oldest part of campus, where the two incumbents spoke through bullhorns about political integrity, equity and the impact young voters can have on the country.

Smith told the crowd that there is “no more powerful place” to be seen than the University campus, and that she has witnessed a movement of young voters around the country who want change.

“I think [young people] are ready to move away from this chaos and division and hate that has been a hallmark of the Trump administration and my opponent [Jason Lewis],” Smith said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily. “They want to move towards a future that is more about lifting up the best in who we are. And I think, because of that, we’re going to be victorious tonight if everybody votes.”

Omar spoke about attendees “ending four years of madness” with their votes, and “building a wall” of representatives who will listen to community members and respond to their concerns about issues such as the climate crisis, tuition and debt cancellation.

 U.S. Senator Tina Smith and U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar address a socially-distanced crowd at a student event at the Knoll on Tuesday, Nov. 3. (Parker Johnson)

“It is important for us to make sure every single electorate is energized and they are exercising their right to vote,” Omar said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily. “I think young people have a lot to lose and a lot to gain. Really, so much of what our future is about and what we’re fighting for is the future that they will inherit.”

In 2018, the University saw record voter turnout among large public universities nationwide, with nearly 60% of students voting. A broad coalition of students have aimed to break the record again this year.

Second-year political science major Layla Reynolds voted for Biden and said she is anxious and eager to see how election night unfolds.

“This isn’t just any old election,” Reynolds said. “I think this election is going to be really pivotal. … I’m really excited and nervous to see how this evening and this upcoming week will play out.”

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