Take out your phone and get ready to do some googling — there’s an election around the corner! Between midterms and Fall Break, it’s easy to forget that there’s a local election this Tuesday, Nov. 5. But please don’t sit this one out. You should vote this Tuesday because Macalester students could determine outcomes for education, policing and other life-changing policy issues in St. Paul. Local elections have the most tangible impacts on people’s lives, so take 10 minutes for action in our community — starting with a nonpartisan voter guide available at www.ballotready.org.
Here is what you need to know: the 2019 elections in St. Paul are for local offices, including city council and school board, and there’s also an important referendum on trash. You may be wondering if you’re eligible to vote. If you’re at least 18 and a U.S. citizen, you can register to vote on election day at the polling place and vote in our city election (if you’re registered in your home state, you won’t need to “unregister” there). If you live on campus, you only need your student ID to register and your polling place is the church behind Carnegie Hall. If you live off campus, you need to bring a proof of address, like a utility bill. You can easily find your polling place on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. And, no matter who you are, you can raise awareness about the election or volunteer for candidates and causes.
Local elections in off-years tend to get overlooked, but they’re some of the most relevant to our daily lives. But right now, it’s old folks voting in these elections. Turnout among young people in local elections is typically in the single digits — leaving decisions about how our schools are run to people who haven’t set foot in a school for decades. Choices about the police force are overwhelmingly decided by the older, white, middle and upper-middle class voters — not young people or people of color.
Voting as a young person can be difficult, and navigating any kind of new system is always challenging. But our communities are better off with our voices, and voting can be a great venue for making yours heard.