This is an article I wrote for the campus newspaper at the University of Minnesota-Morris, The University Register, about Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s visit to the campus to discuss voter registration for the August 10 primary. This article was published on April 28, 2010.
SEC. RITCHIE ASKS STUDENTS TO REGISTER TO VOTE
By Joshua P. Preston
MORRIS, MN – Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie addressed a crowded room of students and faculty on Tuesday evening as part of a statewide college tour encouraging students to register to vote so that they may participate in the August 10 primary.
“Although Minnesota has one of the highest voter turnouts in the state, when we look at our own electorate, 18 to 24 year olds have the lowest rate than any other age group,” Ritchie said, “and to change this, we need to get them involved in the democratic process as soon as possible and as often as possible.”
By registering students where they plan to vote, which for many college students will be where they go to school, before the school year ends so that they may vote absentee in the August primary. Not only will this give registered voters the opportunity to be introduced to the candidates – the DFL and Independence Parties will be holding contested elections – but they will also begin to receive literature from the Secretary of State regarding the general election on November 2, 2010.
Since Minnesota has an open primary, those voting will be able to vote for a candidate of any political affiliation since all three major parties will appear on the same ballot. “Even so,” Ritchie points out, “you will only be able to vote within one party for a given office – otherwise your ballot will be disqualified,” and following the 2008 Senate Recount, he says he has learned a thing or two about disqualified ballots.
This year will mark the first time that Minnesota’s primary will be held in August after being moved up from September so that the process will not accidentally discriminate against those who decide to vote absentee while overseas. Recent legislation requires that ballots be printed and mailed 45 days before the given election.
If you plan to vote absentee in the primary, the necessary form can be found at www.tinyurl.com/mnabsentee.