Rep. Ellison visits for youth vote

By Isaac Mathison-Bowie

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-North Minneapolis) visited campus on Wednesday for a conference call regarding the importance of college students in the political process and the reasons they need to vote this November. The call was a Statewide Youth Vote Conference Call involving political action groups from 18 colleges including Hamline, Saint Thomas and Carleton. Mac Dems hosted the event with around 20 Macalester students, many of them involved in the organization. The purpose of the event was to inform students about the Minnesota marriage amendment and voter ID bills and how they can get involved in the campaign to defeat both in November. Congressman Ellison was preceded via phone by Richard Carlbom, Campaign Manager of Minnesotans United For All Families, the official organization campaigning against the proposed marriage amendment. The amendment would define marriage as between one man and one woman in Minnesota’s state constitution. Carlbom began with a quote by Hubert Humphrey, stating, “Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent and debate.” He repeatedly emphasized that voting no on the amendment was both about love and about freedom, a sentiment echoed later by Ellison. He stated that the latest polls on the amendment show a tight race, with 49 percent of voters currently in favor, 46 percent against and just four percent undecided. Minnesota is the 31st state with a proposed marriage amendment and currently has the closest polls at this point in the campaign. All 30 other states have passed their respective amendments. Although the proposal is set to pass in Minnesota as well, Carlbom and Ellison were both optimistic about the chances of defeating it. Carlbom cited 670 groups, including 15 faith organizations that have joined Minnesota United For All Families’ in their campaign. Both men warned against “putting a stop to the conversation” about legalizing same-sex marriage. Ellison compared changing the Constitution to “carving something into granite” that Minnesotans will not be able to change. After the call with Carlbom ended, Ellison spoke for about 20 minutes concerning both amendments and actions students can take to fight against them. Ellison said he felt students should do more in the campaign against the amendments than in the presidential campaign because he was confident President Obama would win Minnesota. He invoked strong imagery, calling the youth the “army amassing over the state” and made a personal appeal to canvassing, sharing his experiences in college petitioning against apartheid in South Africa that inspired him to get involved in politics. Ellison expressed greater concern regarding the marriage amendment than the voter ID bill because of the greater emotional attachment people have to the former. According to Ellison, support for the voter ID bill has dropped from 83 percent to 53 percent in the past month, although he warned that its proponents will be gearing up to heighten their campaign. He noted that implementing the bill would cost $50 million statewide and $3 million in taxes in Ramsey County. He called voter ID an attempt to reduce the size of the electorate as a way to stifle the thoughts of the young, the lower class, and immigrants. Ellison also vehemently spoke against claims of rampant voter fraud necessitating the bill, saying that the bill wants to “solve a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place” and that its main intent is to keep conservative voices in power. He ended by encouraging Macalester students to talk to their classmates, families and others close to them about defeating the amendments and making sure to vote in a few weeks. refresh –>