“We need to tell the Minnesota legislature that we want to be able to vote here, and to do that, we have to go to the polls and Vote No on the Voter ID Amendment.”
So spoke Kelsey Klug ’14 on Tuesday’s rally against the proposed Minnesota Voter ID Amendment. Between seventy and one hundred people—including students, faculty, and even Fred Rogers, Carleton’s Vice President and Treasurer—gathered on the Bald Spot and spelled out “Vote No” with their bodies, encouraging students to vote against the amendment on November 6th.
“I think it went really well,” said Klug, one of the event’s main organizers. “The fact that we got so many people is fantastic.”
Courtney Dufford ’14, a fellow organizer, agreed. The rally, she said, has been “in the works” all term, but was planned for seventh week in order to capitalize on the political fervor inspired by last week’s Vote No Marriage Amendment rally.
“This amendment really affects students’ ability to be engaged in the community,” she said. “Since we live here, and we are affected by Minnesotan laws, we should be able to vote here as well.”
The proposed amendment would not explicitly prevent college students from voting, but it would make the process much more difficult. Voters would need to present a government-issued photo ID containing a Minnesota address. Since Carleton’s address belongs to a business, not to a residence, there is concern that out-of-state Carleton students would not count as having a valid Minnesota address, and would therefore be unable to vote.
“Students want to be engaged,” added Klug. “Being prevented from voting worries Carls. [The rally] was our way to help students realize just how important it is.”
With the rally, Carleton students join the University of Minnesota and St. Olaf in officially opposing the amendment. This past Thursday, students from six different colleges rallied against the amendment on the steps of the University of Minnesota. They were joined by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback, who voiced his concern that even in-state students would have a much more difficult time voting under the new amendment.
Carleton students expressed optimism about the issue. “The movement in the polls has been amazing,” said Erik Anderson ’13, adding that he feels like phonebanking has been a successful way to raise awareness. Personally, he said, he has called “quite a few” people “who initially started out as [supporters], but had changed their minds” by the end of the conversation.
Local newspapers have also come out in opposition to the Amendment. The Northfield Patch recently ran an editorial proclaiming that the amendment “will directly disenfranchise students by eliminating same-day registration, and making students unable to use their college IDs as a valid form of identification.” Young adults, it noted, are already politically underrepresented; the amendment will only increase that problem.
Ultimately, said Dufford, the only way to make sure students maintain their voting abilities was to encourage them to vote against it themselves.
“We have to go [to the polls] and vote this year,” she said. “Otherwise, it might be the last time that we can do so.”