by Gillian McIntosh

The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights of the American people. For the majority of University of Northwestern – St. Paul students, the 2016 election will be the first election they are eligible to vote in. In order to vote, people must register. Although eligible to vote, many might not see the importance of voting.

Melissa Brookman, a senior professional writing major, has voted in previous elections. Brookman had this to say on the importance of voting in the 2016 election: “Even if a person is not a fan of either candidate’s personalities, the hard truth is that one of them is going to affect your life for the next four to eight years. Look past their rude exterior and find out what their policies are and what laws they want to enforce, amend or appeal. When you step into that booth on Election Day and close the curtain, it is just you, God and your voting ballot.”

trumpclintonGrace Omot, a senior intercultural studies major said: “I was honestly surprised at how easy it was to register. The online application took about three minutes, and then I received my voter registration card in the mail, which indicated that I was registered and set to vote on Election Day.You can also register to vote on Election Day at the polling place.”

Omot expressed her opinion on the importance of voting. She said: “It is vital to be a part of the election process to voice our opinions as American citizens and voters. The system was set up this way for our benefit and only works well if ALL Americans are accurately represented at the polls.”

Paying out-of-state tuition or having a driver’s license from another state does not necessarily mean a person cannot vote in Minnesota. People should register to vote from the address they currently consider home. For many students, this is likely a school address or a parent’s house. Students who can still go back to visit but no longer consider it their home should register to vote where they live at school. People who have moved to Minnesota from another state and currently consider Minnesota their home can vote on campus even if they pay out-of-state tuition or have a driver’s license from another state. There are multiple ways students can register to vote.

One way to pre-register to vote in Minnesota is online with an email address and a Minnesota driver’s license, a Minnesota ID card, or the last four digits of a Social Security number. The website to register is: mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us. However, the deadline to register online was October 18.

“It’s vital to be a part of the election process to voice our opinions as American citizens and voters. The system was set up this way for our benefit and only works well if ALL Americans are accurately represented at the polls.” – Grace Omot

Students from a town in Minnesota or from another state can send in an absentee ballot. To request an absentee ballot, visit the following website: www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/. Once the form is received, it should be filled out and mailed, faxed or email to the appropriate Circuit or Municipal Clerk’s office so it is received no later than the day prior to Election Day. Once absentee voters receive their ballot, they should follow the instructions to fill it out. For Minnesota, the ballot must be received by mail or package delivery service at the address on the ballot return envelope no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The deadlines for online pre-registration and absentee ballots have passed. Another way students can register to vote is on Election Day. Upon arriving for registration, bring one proof of residence from the following list:

  • ID with current name and address
  • Photo ID and a document with current name and address
  • Registered voter who can confirm your address
  • College student ID with housing list
  • Valid registration in the same precinct
  • Notice of late registration
  • Staff person of a residential facility

Once students are registered to vote, they need to find their local polling place. The precinct for Northwestern is at Centennial United Methodist Church (P-1) 1524 County Road C2 W. Roseville, MN 55113.

Pro-tip: the shuttle frequently stops at Northwestern residential building Pittman South between 7:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., which is across the street from the polling place.

Incentive for voting: receive an ‘I Voted’ sticker and the increased possibility that your favorite candidates will be elected into government.

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