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UMN students push canvassing efforts on Election Day

University of Minnesota student groups have been working on student turnout efforts for months.
Image by Parker Johnson
A voter waits in line to cast their ballot outside Marcy Open Elementary School on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Juan Mantilla can’t vote — but he did everything he could to make sure those who can, would.

Mantilla was born in Colombia and, due to his refugee status, he cannot vote. However, the fourth-year sociology and political science major was one of many University of Minnesota students out canvassing on Tuesday in a bid to gather Election Day votes.

“This election is really important to me, because as I watch my fellow Latinos locked up in cages, that really affects me on a very personal level,” he said. “Even though I personally can’t vote, [canvassing is] just another way for me to be able to know that I’m inspiring people to go and use their voice.”

Day-of canvassers drew voters from many areas across campus, including Superblock, Sanford Hall, Roy Wilkins Hall and the area between Northrop, the knoll across from Folwell Hall and the Coffman Union.

Canvassers included students from groups like the University chapter of College Democrats and the UMN Students for Biden.

Many volunteers headed out as early as 7 a.m. Tuesday to begin ushering student voters to polling places around the University area. The College Democrats manned golf carts to bring would-be voters to nearby polling places.

The 2020 election is the first where University first-year Jenna Quinn will be able to vote. She said that while she has been increasingly anxious about the results of the presidential election, she’s excited to be able to try to make a difference.

“Being able to be out here canvassing … and just knowing that I can help make a difference has calmed me a bit,” she said. “I don’t know if it’ll help the outcome, but hopefully it will.”

Canvassers said students on campus have been generally receptive to their efforts, whether or not they agree with affiliated groups. Election Day was just one of many that volunteers have been working on voter turnout efforts.

“It’s so tiring,” University College Democrats secretary Tessa Simon said. “We’ve been out canvassing and organizing for the last few weeks. It’s been four years, and it feels like my entire life I’ve been waiting for this day. I’m so glad it’s finally here, because we put in so much work.”

The University chapter of College Republicans and Students for Trump spent time earlier this month promoting virtual events to encourage voters. The groups decided against same-day events to allow conservative voters time to cast their ballots.

“It’s kind of a ‘coin-flip’ sort of situation,” College Republicans president Kirby Gibson said. “We didn’t want to hold something to detract from peoples’ time voting.”

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