Give yourself a round of applause, Katies — and then pick up a 2019 ballot.
According to results of a new study, St. Catherine University students are voting at a much higher percentage than college students across the nation. The report is part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) conducted by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.
The NSLVE report compared data from 2018 and 2014 elections at institutions of higher education across the United States. In 2018, St. Kate’s students garnered a voting rate of 60.1%, compared to the 2018 voting rate of 39.1% for all institutions.
St. Kate’s student voting engagement also surpassed itself from 2014 to 2018, with an increase of 25.1 percentage points over those four years, from 35% in 2014.
D’Ann Urbaniak Lesch, Director of the Center for Community Work and Learning (CWL), suggests that the rise in Katies’ voting participation may be a result of financial support provided in 2018 by Student Senate and Campus Election Engagement Project. Thanks to this backing, the newly formed Civic Engagement Collective was able to provide additional education and outreach, including tabling, flyers, and the now-annual Pizza and Politics informational programming.
Urbaniak Lesch was encouraged, but not surprised, by the positive student response to the programming and overall engagement in issues involving our democracy. “St. Kate’ students are active community members and critical thinkers who are concerned with social justice,” she says. “We saw this during our events, where students asked great questions and engaged with speakers — and this played into voter turnout in 2018.”
Get there: early voting today, October 30, in the Rauenhorst Ballroom
St. Kate’s students can flex their electoral muscles again this year, thanks to the early voting opportunity Ramsey County Elections will be holding at St. Kate’s today. From 12 to 6 p.m. in the Rauenhorst Ballroom, Ramsey County residents can cast their ballots for the 2019 November general election. Any Ramsey County resident can complete same-day registration by bringing appropriate identification. [Note from May 2020: Due to the impact of the coronavirus on county services, voter registration is now "being conducted online and through the mail."
For many, especially first-time voters, participating in elections can be daunting. But Minnesota offers plenty of options to accommodate your voting preferences, points out St. Kate’s economics and political science assistant professor Marina Gorsuch.
“A lot of people don’t vote because they’re intimidated by it or it’s inconvenient, and it’s important to know that we can vote early, absentee, or even on Election Day,” Gorsuch says. “It’s really easy to vote in Minnesota, you don’t have to be scared. You can do it!”
Likely partially in thanks to the alternatives listed by Gorsuch, Minnesota 2018 fall elections saw almost double the participation by young voters, MPR reported. The 18-to-29-year olds bloc increased from 21.3% in 2014 to 39.6% last year, in the largest increase in voter turnout among all age brackets.
Despite the promising news, this upswing in young voter engagement is no reason to let your ballot gather dust, urges Myah Schultz ’21, political science major. “The people that I vote for are going to be making decisions that affect my life personally,” she says. “If everyone decides not to vote, who’s speaking for our country? … Let yourself be heard.”
The issue is important to Zaynab Abdi ’20 for exactly the opposite reason. “Voting matters for me because I don’t have the right to do it here, even though I am passionate about it,” says Abdi, Student Senate President. Because of her refugee, non-US citizen status, Abdi is legally unable to vote in U.S. elections, despite her considerable community involvement and work advocating for human rights on both local and international platforms. “Every single one of you counts for many hundreds of people who can’t vote. Fight for your right and claim your vote, because civic engagement is part of social justice, and social justice is one of our core St. Kate’s values.”
To vote in Minnesota, you must be:
- a U.S. citizen
- at least 18 years old on election day
- a resident of Minnesota for at least 20 days
- finished with all part of any felony sentence
Voting later? Find your regular polling location
2018: Katies were engaged in elections as voters, advocates, and candidates