As we all seek to encourage full participation in the electoral process, we’re grateful to Claire Wilson, Voter Director in the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, and Laura Frederick Wang, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters Minnesota/LWV Minnesota Education Fund, for providing an overview of new tools, opportunities for collaboration, and other key resources and information.
- Voter registration forms can be downloaded from the www.mnvotes.org website, or the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State will mail them out upon request, or forms can be picked up from local election officials.
- Send voter registration cards in within 10 days of when they’re dated.
- It also helps to include the voter’s email or phone number on the voter registration form so a local election official can get in touch if they can’t read some of the information.
- People who do have a driver’s license are encouraged to put the license number on the card, since providing it allows the verification process to go much more quickly.
- People not sure whether they are already registered to vote can easily look themselves up on a new tool at https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/VoterStatus.aspx. You just need to enter your name, date of birth, and zip code or county. (There is no harm in registering more than once since the system will catch duplicates, but it’s now easy to check first.)
- Students who might be studying or traveling abroad should get in touch with Overseas Vote Foundation (https://minnesota.overseasvotefoundation.org/vote/home.htm) to register and request a ballot electronically.
- For students who want to vote absentee, a new Absentee Ballot Lookup tool (https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx) enables voters to check whether their application was accepted, then whether their ballot was accepted.
- Many campuses send a list of resident students to local elected officials, which allows students on such a list to register at the poll site with a student ID.
- To prepare for voting, students and others can go to http://www.mnvotes.org to get a sample ballot off the precinct finder.
- Since this is a redistricting year, it’s important to pay attention to whether polling places change. Current polling places can be found at http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/. Registered voters should also receive a postcard identifying their polling place.
- The League of Women Voters Minnesota produces a Voter Guide every year, sending questions to all candidates and conveying candidates’ positions in their own words.
- Print copies of the voter guide include candidates for statewide office, congressional seats, and contested judicial offices. They will be available in all Target stores, and anyone can request copies (as many as needed) from the League’s state office.
- An online guide is available at www.lwvmn.org or the League’s national site, www.vote411.org. The online version covers more races, including state legislative races, and at www.vote411.org, you can produce a customized guide for each voter, based on their address.
- The League also hosts debates and forums, with the state office organizing debates for statewide offices (U.S. Senate and congressional seats this year and the local chapters hosting more. All events are free and open to the public, and they are often broadcast on cable access television as well.
- On election day (and usually the day before), the League partners with KSTP to offer a live hotline, available to anyone statewide, with volunteers who can answer questions—e.g., which IDs will allow you to vote, various options to get to the polls, what to do if your right to vote is challenged.
- Claire Wilson will come to any interested campus and lead a voting rights workshop to share information, address questions about the implications of voter ID law for students, and clarify what is actually required to vote now. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie loves to get out and talk to larger gatherings of students. Please contact Claire at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-201-1339 with any questions or requests.
- The 42 local chapters of the League of Women Voters Minnesota would be very happy to partner with student groups or campuses on candidate debates and forums. A list of local Leagues, including contact information, is available at www.lwvmn.org/page.aspx?pid=554.
- Serve as an election judge on election day. For more information, see http://www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=585.
Other Resources of Interest
• Best Practices to Help Students Register and Vote: A Guide for Colleges and Universities and Student Groups (www.fairelectionsnetwork.com/_data/global/images/Best%20Practices%20for%20Colleges%202010.pdf)
• Young Voter Mobilization Tactics: A Compilation of the Most Recent Research on Traditional and Innovative Voter Turnout Techniques (www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/Young_Voters_Guide.pdf)
• Campus Compact’s national Campus Vote Initiative offers some program examples (www.compact.org/initiatives/campus-vote-home/)