CSB/SJU Votes Coalition urges students to vote Nov. 3

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October 22, 2020

For the last two months, a variety of groups have courted people for their vote regarding any number of candidates or issues. 

But for at least one group, it’s not about who or what you vote for. It’s simply to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

2020 Election

The College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University Votes Coalition is made up of the College Democrats, College Republicans, United Politics, the CSB and SJU Student Senates and various student clubs. 

“CSB/SJU Votes has been fortunate to receive broad support from across our campus community,” said SJU senior Colin Yokanovich, a biochemistry major from Eagan, Minnesota who serves as co-director of the coalition along with CSB senior Laurel Poole. 

“Regardless of who students decide to vote for at every level, our goal is to mobilize students to have a voice and be a voter,” Yokanovich said. “The central goal of our coalition is to normalize participation in the democratic process.”

“I think many students are excited to participate in this election due to a sense of urgency present among voters,” said Poole, a political science major from Longview, Washington. “The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as issues involving racial equity this summer, have intensified current political circumstances.”

One of the goals of the group is to increase student voter participation from the 2018 midterm elections.

During that election, 55.1% of the students at CSB and 52% of the students at SJU voted – an increase 36.7% and 19.1%, respectively, from the 2014 midterm elections. In comparison, the overall voting rate at all schools surveyed was 39.1%, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, a signature initiative of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tuft University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.

In November 2019, both schools were recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for voter engagement during the 2018 midterm election.

CSB was one of five schools in the nation to receive the ALL IN Challenge's Champion Award for having the most improved undergraduate voting rate among over 560 participating campuses. CSB was also presented a Best in Class Award for having the overall most improved undergraduate voting rate at a small, private, participating institution.

In addition, both CSB and SJU received the top “Platinum” level for exceeding a 50% voting rate.

“This was major growth during a midterm election, so we are hoping to see an even higher increase during a presidential election,” Poole said.

“We are intent on expanding involvement in the 2020 election and have adapted our outreach efforts for the COV-19 pandemic,” Yokanovich said.

“Our motto for increasing voter turnout in this election is to meet students where they are at,” Poole said. “We are attempting to do this through our relationships with clubs and organizations, presenting to classes and tabling and giving away some fun stuff. We have increased our presence on social media and the banner app and have put together some awesome events and speakers to engage with the community.”

One of the ways the group is attempting to do this is through the “Make Your Vote Count Challenge,” in partnership with CSB and SJU Residential Life.

“In response to the current COVID-19 restrictions, we have adapted our living community engagement strategy to meet students where they are at,” Yokanovich said. “Our goal is to leverage the strong residential communities of CSB/SJU to make voting a group activity.

“Each dorm area is automatically entered into the challenge and the community with the highest percentage of voters wins pizza. To compete, students should submit where they voted or how they voted to the QR code on the posters (around campus),” he said.

Although it is too late to receive an absentee ballot (the cutoff was Oct. 13), Minnesota has same-day voter registration when voting in person. You will need to bring your student ID card and a driver’s license, and then complete a voter registration form.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

At Saint Ben’s, students living west of College Avenue (most of the on-campus students) will vote at Resurrection Lutheran Church, 610 County Road 2, St. Joseph (busing will be available continuously from 7:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from CSB Lot 13). Students living east of College Avenue will vote at the St. Joseph Government Center, 75 Callaway St. E. (located just north of Centennial Commons).

At Saint John’s, most on-campus students will vote at the Great Hall. Residents of Vincent Court Apartments 40, 50, 51, and 60 and Marmion House will need to vote at the Avon Township Hall, 16881 Queens Road, Avon.

“If you did not pre-register, you can still register on Election Day,” said Yokanovich, cautioning voters to be patient with the process as the polling locations will be busy.