Students Vote at UMD
Chelsea Cansino: “All people should have the opportunity to vote. We are all equal. The [Voter ID] amendment contradicts what we stand for and what we believe in."
Ross Burns: “Romney has a laid out plan on how to get us out of our current situation and has proven his tactics in the past with the numerous companies he has worked with."
Ben Dufault. “The president has put more money into the Pell Grant program in order to give about 9.5 million students [in need] the chance at higher education."
Betsy Johnson: “Voter integrity is important to me. So many elections have been decided in close races. Every vote is important and there is potential for fraud. I prefer to keep it safe.”
Tim Swanson: "Anyone who loves another person should be able to get married."
Like college students across the country, UMD students are concerned about the future of the U.S. According to a national survey of college students, only 24 percent feel "confident and secure" about America's future. The survey was conducted by the Panetta Institute at California State University, Monterey Bay, a nonpartisan center for the study of public policy.
Chelsea Cansino, a member of UMD's Student Association, said the future looks bright to her. "I'm confident in the citizens of this country," she said. "We are resilient, and we're good at adjusting. Actually, the results of the elections could determine how secure I'll feel about the future."
"As it stands with the current president, I don't feel confident in the future of this country," said Ross Burns, a member of the UMD Student Association. "I am confident in the American people and that they will make the right decision in November to get our country back on track."
According to the Panetta survey, which was conducted from March 23, to April 3, 2012, university students lean to the Democratic side when it comes to politics. Obama received a 67% positive job rating, while 34% supported Mitt Romney in the presidential election. Recent student surveys show a more narrow gap, but Obama is still in the lead among young voters.
At UMD, there is strong debate about the presidential election.
Ben Dufault, president of UMD College Democrats, intends to vote for Obama because of Obama’s strong views about supporting higher education. “The president has put more money into the Pell Grant program in order to give about 9.5 million students [in need] the chance at higher education,” said Dufault. "[Obama] was a vocal advocate for congress to keep the student loan debt rates from doubling. This was an issue that actually got a lot of attention, and it was amazing to see the President fight hard for students."
Betsy Johnson, economics major and president of UMD College Republicans said she is voting for Ron Paul for president. “I believe that voting is about respect and all of us should vote,” she said. “There are women around the world still fighting for their right to vote. Here in the U.S., we shouldn't throw the opportunity away." Johnson talked about the history of rights workers and others who gave their lives so women and minorities could vote.
"Our country is in a sticky spot right now," said Burns. "I don't feel that President Obama has the best intentions for the American people, and he doesn't know how to get us out of this mess. That is why I am voting for Governor Romney. Romney has a laid out plan on how to get us out of our current situation and has proven his tactics in the past with the numerous companies he has worked with."
Only 21% of students polled in the Panetta survey rate the economy as either “excellent or good.” The majority polled gave the economy weak ratings. Johnson agrees with the students in the survey. “I’m concerned about the economic stability of the country,” she said. “The most important thing the president we elect in November can accomplish is to reevaluate how to spend money. More important is what we spend money on; the question is how can we be more efficient.”
UMD students are paying attention to the proposed Minnesota’s marriage amendment, which would add a definition of marriage as "a union between a man and a woman" to the state's constitution. Those opposed to the amendment seek equality for all residents and citizens and see the marriage amendment withholding from some individuals and families important legal rights and obligations. Minnesota law already forbids same-sex marriage, but supporters argue the amendment is necessary to prevent judges and politicians from changing the law without giving voters the final decision.
Johnson said she is going to vote “no” on Minnesota marriage amendment. “ I believe in the separation of church and state,” she said. “A church’s definition of marriage should not be used in a state process.”
Tim Swanson, senior management information systems major, is voting "no" on the marriage amendment. "Anyone who loves another person should be able to get married. Women and women, men and men, and women and men. To deny the right to marry is discrimination."
"I am still undecided on the marriage amendment," said Burns. "I go back and forth on that issue."
VOTER ID AMENDMENT
Another issue in Minnesota this November is the proposed constitutional amendment that would require state voters to show a government-issued photo identification before being allowed to cast their ballots. Supporters of the measure say it would help prevent fraud and would have no effect on legitimate voters. Opponents of the measure say voter fraud is not a problem in the state and the amendment would make it tougher for people to get approved IDs and prevent many residents, especially students and the elderly, from actually voting.
Johnson said she is voting “yes.” “Voter integrity is important to me,” she said. “So many elections have been decided in close races. Every vote is important and there is potential for fraud. I prefer to keep it safe.”
"I will definitely be voting "yes" on the voter ID amendment," said Burns. "We need more integrity in our voting system. I think it is far too easy to submit a fraudulent vote in this country. You have to show a photo ID to buy liquor or to get on a plane, why shouldn't you have to show ID to vote?"
Cansino is voting "no" on the voter ID amendment. "It is an unnecessary segregation of people," she said. "All people should have the opportunity to vote. We are all equal. The amendment contradicts what we stand for and what we believe in."
VOTING IF YOU LIVE ON CAMPUS
Students who live on campus will vote in the Kirby Ballroom. Those on-campus students who haven't pre-registered can simply bring their U-Card to the Ballroom on Tuesday, November 6 from 7 am to 8 pm.
HOW UMD STUDENTS CAN VOTE
Information on voting, what the ballot will have on it, and absentee voter information can be found at www.mnvotes.org
MPRIG has already pre-registered over 1800 students. Other students at the University of Minnesota Duluth can still register on Election Day at the polling place corresponding to their current address. Polls are open on Tuesday, November 6 from 7 am to 8 pm; a few polling places in rural areas open later in the morning.
Information for same day registration can be found at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=204
To find where you vote, people can also use the poll finder provided by the Secretary of State's Office: http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/
Written by Cheryl Reitan and Korin Olgaard, October 2012