“Do you know about this year’s midterm election?” “Would you like to register to vote?” “Have you considered who you’re voting for this year?”
These are just a few questions from my door-knocking script. That’s right. I’m one of those people, knocking on your dorm room door when you’re just trying to enjoy leftover pizza and watch Grey’s Anatomy.
I apologize for my intrusion, but despite having loud mouths and big opinions on hot topic issues like abortion, gay marriage and student loans the so-called “youth vote” is weaker than ever. Less than 50% of eligible youth voters actually show up to vote. It’s up to volunteers like myself to get students hyped about this year’s upcoming election.
Volunteering for Winona’s Democratic-Farmers-Labor (DFL) party was one of the best decisions I’ve made since I started school at WSU this past August. Through the volunteer program I’ve met a lot of likeminded people that share the same views I do and made some really great friends. Activities the volunteer program offer consist of going door to door asking people to register and helping them find their polling place, calling people to remind them of the upcoming election day, handing out flyers to students on campus, and helping set up for big events like the “Get out and Vote” bus tour. I was even given the opportunity to meet a few of the politicians running this year like Steve Simon and Gene Pelowski.
If you’re not from Minnesota or don’t know much about Minnesota politics, volunteering is a great way to find out more about the different politicians and policies. In fact, even if you’re from out of state you are still eligible to vote in Minnesota’s midterm and presidential election. I came to Winona from a small town in Illinois, but after just two months of volunteering I like to think I’m pretty savvy with MnSCU jargon and politicians running in this year’s election.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the course of volunteering is the importance of a vote. While in presidential elect years nearly everyone turns out to vote, midterms are often overlooked. But think about it for minute–how can the president you helped put in office do anything without a cooperative congress? It’s easy to vote for the president. There are endless ads and almost every history class you take will be talking about it at the time of the election. Midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections, but are not taken as seriously by voters. This needs to change.
Regardless of party lines, everyone should get educated and vote. As a citizen it’s your right to vote and it’s a right we’re very lucky to have. If you don’t like the way your student loans work, if you want more or less government involvement at a state level, if you think there should be more emphasis on equality rights, I’ve got great news! You get in a say in it this Tuesday. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t register. If you show up to your polling place (PDF) with a valid ID, you can vote.
Please, take the time out of your Tuesday this week to vote. No party has this election ‘in the bag’ there’s no sure fire winner. Everything is close and everything is up in the air. Your voice matters and here is your chance to have it heard.
Hope to see you at the polls on Tuesday!