Election Fever

David EideOpinions Columnist

With the recent inundation of ads on TV or on YouTube, it’d be pretty hard to miss that we have a major election rapidly approaching.   I’ll just put all my cards on the table here, as a proud political science major and general political geek I think this particular midterm is very important and that anyone who is able to should cast their ballot.  Fortunately, here in Minnesota it’s fairly easy to vote even if you just found out there’s a major election coming up, and it’s even easier if you intend to vote here in St. Peter as a student.  

Gustavus has a long history of political engagement.  Even before adults under 21 were made eligible to vote by the 26th amendment, Gusties were volunteering for campaigns and participating in non-binding straw polls for president.  After the voting age was lowered to 18, Gustavus continued its tradition of extensive electoral turnout.  For example, in 2016 and 2018, Gustavus actually had the highest student turnout out of all the private colleges in Minnesota, a feat that we literally won a trophy for.  We still had very high turnout for 2020 but sadly St. Olaf just barely beat us out.  I think we have a good chance to beat them this year and reclaim our crown and live up to our long tradition of strong civic engagement.

Of course, you shouldn’t just decide to vote because we might win a neat trophy because of it, there are a lot of important reasons to vote this year.  One specific race I’d like to home in on is the race for the state legislature, which I think hasn’t been covered nearly enough.  Minnesota is one of the few states in the nation to have a divided legislature with Republicans controlling the senate and Democrats controlling the House.  This has been the case since Democrats captured the house in 2018, the previous midterm year, and it seems likely we’ll witness more major shifts this midterm year.  If one party can seize control of both chambers of the legislature as well as the governorship, they could basically pass whatever their agenda is.  This has major implications for critically important issues such as abortion, the legal status of recreational marijuana and ballot access as each of the parties have wildly divergent stances on these issues. We have some very important legislative races here in St. Peter including a rematch between the former incumbent of our house seat and the candidate who beat him in 2020.  If there is an issue that matters to you, there’s a very solid chance that it will be affected by the outcome of this election.

This election will have major consequences for years to come as the state senate will not have another election for four years, meaning whoever wins it now will hold it until 2026.  Luckily, there are still plenty of ways to have your voice heard this election season.  It’s very easy to head down to the courthouse to register and vote early in-person especially considering that we have a specific form at gac.edu/vote you can use to schedule a shuttle ride to the courthouse.  Furthermore, if you don’t really feel like voting early and instead want to vote on election day, Gustavus has plenty of helpful resources for that situation as well.  The shuttle service will be running for basically the entire day to get people to their voting locations and there are special hours for classes to give people a large slot of time to head down and vote, and you’ll only have to bring your drivers license and student ID to register to vote if you haven’t already.  All of these measures should hopefully make it less of a hassle to get out there and vote, which I know has been a common concern among a lot of the people I’ve spoken to about the topic.

There’s just so much to talk about with this election, if I tried to squeeze in everything I wanted to say we would definitely run out of space so I’ll just give some closing thoughts.  This election is going to be critical for Minnesota and the country as a whole and will likely set the stage for the political scene of the next decade.  I wasn’t able to go into much detail about candidates and their stances in this article but if you want to know more and really do some thorough research, I would recommend checking out the previously recommended gac.edu/vote.  There are several voter guides there as well as a ton of other useful information regarding the election and how it relates to us here at Gustavus.  Whether or not you’ve already cast your ballot, here or in another state, I hope you’ve come away with a new perspective about the upcoming election and why it matters so much.

 

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