The Gustavian Weekly

Gusties Vote 2020 encourages students to vote on Nov. 3rd - The Gustavian Weekly

By Freya Nelson - Staff Writer | October 2, 2020 | News

A s the November election approaches, the Gustavus community is mobilizing towards campus-wide voter engagement.
Gustavus has a history of encouraging voting as a civic duty, and that effort has paid off. In 2018, the College won the State of Minnesota Ballot Bowl with 55 percent of the student body voting.
As students navigate through the stressors of mail-in, in-person, or first-time voting in this year’s presidential election, Amy Pehrson, Director of the Community Engagement Center (CEC), provides tips for student voter success.
“The most important thing to remember [with mail-in voting] is that when you sign the outside of your ballot, sign it exactly as it appears on your driver’s license. This is the signature that they use to verify that the envelope containing your ballot is actually yours,” Pehrson said.
As part of the CEC, Pehrson oversees the Voter Engagement Committee. This team, which consists of four students, is tasked primarily with encouraging and informing Gustavus students on voting. This year in particular the Voter Engagement Committee has been crucial in dispelling students’ confusions related to mail-in voting, amidst mixed political messages regarding the topic of absentee ballots.
“Ensure that your ballot is in the mail in advance of November 3‒ has a lot of good information,” Pehrson said
For those opting to vote in person, Gustavus offers resources for that as well.
“Similar to other years, there will be Gustie vans that will take students to the polling center on Election Day. We are also offering the Community Engagement shuttle for anyone who wants to vote early at the Nicollet County Courthouse (email to schedule a ride),” Pehrson said.
Pehrson also highlighted the goals of the Voter Engagement Committee.
“The goals of the Gusties Vote 2020 campaign this year are to register 85 percent of eligible Gustie students, increase the turnout rate to 90 percent of registered students and to remove barriers to participation,” Pehrson said.
Other on-campus organizations such as Gustavus Women and Leadership and Ignite Gustavus have also taken initiatives towards ensuring student voter engagement this fall. The two student-led organizations are co-sponsoring a virtual event, along with the League of Women Voters, on October 5, titled, ‘Civic Engagement and Leadership,’ which is open to all Gustavus students. This event will strive to further engage students in non-partisan voter education.
Young voters have been proven to have an important function within the American democratic system. It is important that students exercise their right to vote in not only this year’s election, but in every election.
“When eligible voters do not turn out, not only are they forfeiting their vote, but they are giving more power to those who do vote. A Portland State University Study found that a mere 15 percent of voters participate in local elections, which involve mayors, council members and other local offices which have a direct influence on our local communities. A miniscule portion of local citizens end up determining the changes that will affect the entire community,” the Gustavus Voter Engagement Committee said.
The Gustavus Voter Engagement webpage provides students with links to register to vote, request absentee ballots and a comprehensive student voting guide. Pehrson can also answer any questions regarding voting this November, voting stressors or voter accessibility.
For Pehrson and the Voter Engagement Committee, it is crucial that students, not only as members of the Gustavus Community, but also as part of a nationwide community, exercise their right to vote in the upcoming presidential election this November.

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