Students across Minnesota try to get voters


Although the idea of a new U.S. president has interested a young demographic, getting those young people to actually go out and vote is still proving to be a challenge.

For students interested in getting involved, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group hosted a training session on how to get their communities interested in voting.

Saturday’s Youth Power Summit brought 72 students from 15 colleges across the state to the Hubert H. Humphrey Center to learn about the process.

Some topics discussed were grassroots lobbying, constructing a useful message and politics in Minnesota.

Sunday, after they received the training, students went out to residential areas near campus, knocking on doors and talking to people to get them registered to vote in November.

MPIRG Executive Director Josh Winters said the group has registered more than 7,400 people so far in their No Youth Vote Left Behind campaign.

Just last week, they registered 2,456 people. MPIRG’s goal is 10,000 registered voters by Oct. 14.

“We believe that this will have a profound impact on what we see for turnout percentages on our campuses,” Winters said.

MPIRG doesn’t just register them, but will knock on doors, make phone calls and send text messages to remind those registered to get out and vote on Nov. 4, Winters said.

Anna Donnelly , a global studies senior and co-chair of the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition (STAND) , said she thinks the Youth Power Summit is trying to lay the groundwork to get young people to take that initial step to vote and get engaged.

“This past election year, we had an increase of 11 percent, so now 47 percent of us voted,” Donnelly said. “Which is fabulous, but that means 53 percent of us aren’t represented.”

MPIRG’s organizing director Jamison Tessneer said this campaign was needed to maintain Minnesota’s reputation of having high youth voter turnouts.

“[We decided we] need to make sure that our students were prepared to organize on their campuses, register their peers to vote, educate students on the issues and candidates and to make sure that they’re getting out to the polls on election day,” Tessneer said.

Event attendees like Ryan Kennedy, MPIRG task force leader and board of directors member, noted the importance of voting.

“Voting is our biggest responsibility as a citizen,” Kennedy said. “The easiest way to express your political views is by voting,” he said.

MPIRG co-chair Matt Fitzgerald said they want to show people how easy it is to vote.

If you’re a student and you care about the issues, your vote can make a difference, Winters said.

“These issues are all directly impacted by decisions our elected officials make, therefore, who we elect matters and who votes matters,” he said.