Voting hits close to 'home'

By Sarah Knipsel

An election frenzy is sweeping the nation. From broad-scale party platforms on gay marriage and abortion to Rep. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin to the Mac-Groveland race between Macalester’s own Andrew Ojeda and popular liberal incumbent Erin Murphy, people are talking about voting. Even toOccupiers and Anarchists who stood outside the DNC with signs asserting that notvoting is the way to go, one thing is clear: when you vote, you influence. As young people, particularly as students, our power is frequently limited. We are rarely viewed as full-fledged adults. Many of us cannot legally drink, we are bound by Macalester’s rules and regulations, and most of us cannot even rent a car. Many politicians overlook the student vote because student turnout is low. But this will be one of the most contentious elections in our nation’s history, and now, more than ever, is a time when students can and must wield all the power we hold. Students at Macalester in particular come from all 50 states, and most of them are not local. In fact, the state that racked up most admitted students in my class (2015 whaddup!) is California. I’m not from here, either. I am from New York. Imay have come to Macalester because I hated my hometown, but I still hold a lot of East Coast pride. I thumb my nose at Midwestern bagels and pizza, I pronounce the first “A” in my name like the A in “sassy,” not “hair,” and I couldn’t be “Minnesota nice” if my life depended on it. Despite that, I’m voting in Minnesota. The simplest reasonis that my vote “counts” more here. The area I’m from will always elect the Democrat, and even in smaller village and county elections, everyone knows all the candidates, and elections amount to popularity contests. But that was not my primary deciding factor. I have been spending most of my time here over the past year, and will continue to do so for at least the next three. I’m only in New York three months of the year. I spend the best three-fourths of my year in the Twin Cities, and I would like to have a say in how they’re governed. More importantly, these cities are mine. I spent the first 18 years of my life in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, because my parents decided they wanted to live there. I’ve spent the last year in Saint Paul, Minnesota, because I want to live here. And I have too much invested in this community to neglect it in the polls. I learned how to take the bus and ride my bike to almost every neighborhood in Minneapolis without getting lost. I swam in the Mississippi River. I fought with community organizers, studied for the citizenship test with Latino immigrants, and made it a personal mission to find the tastiest burritos in town. And this summer, I also canvassed across the state with MPIRG asking Minnesotans to get out and vote. This fall, we’re registering students at the Campus Center. If I didn’t vote in this election, I’d be turning my back on all the things, places and people I’ve come to love here, because I’d be forfeiting the most basic way I can make Minnesota a little bit better for them. The two amendments on the ballot this year hit particularly close to home. I’m voting in Minnesota this year so I can vote against the Marriage Amendment, which will ban my gay friends, coworkers and neighbors from getting married in this state. I don’t want to live in a place where my friends don’t get to celebrate love in the same way that I do, or where my mentors, who are also wise and loving same-sex parents, will have to explain to their children why the constitution says their family isn’t as valid as everyone else’s. I’m voting in Minnesota this year so I can vote against the Voter ID amendment, which requires a state-issued photo ID with a current address for all Minnesota voters. I only have a New York driver’s license. All the community organizing I’ve done will pack much less of a punch if I can’t even vote for legislation to aid my causes. I would love to pressure my legislatures to enact a foreclosure moratorium in the Twin Cities – but where will my power come from if I can’t even vote for my representatives? I still can’t decipher passive-aggressive texts for their hidden meaning, and I will never, ever get used to all the mosquitos. But I have so much Minnesotan pride. When I go back to New York, I don’t want to have to tell my friends and family that I decided to live in the land of Michele Bachmann, Arctic winters, homophobia and voter repression. I want to be proud of the city that I chose. I want to brag that my community became the very first to defeat an anti-marriage amendment, and I know we will. My heart’s in Minnesota, and I’m going to have a hand in making it exactly the kind of place I want it to be. refresh –>