Education efforts to increase young voter turnout

Community members will take to the polls Nov. 8 and vote for Minnesota State representatives and other city officials.

MSU students will vote in the highly competitive First Congressional District race, which features incumbent Brad Finstad, a Republican who won the special election last summer, and John Ettinger, the Democrat challenging him again.

Students can also cast ballots for Mankato City Council seats. The city council ward that includes residence halls and campus-area apartments and townhomes is up for grabs as Don Friend and Kevin Mettler vie for the open seat.

Also on ballots are county board races as well as statewide offices such as governor and attorney general.

Grace Larsen is a junior who transferred from St. Cloud Technical & Community College. She is majoring in political science and says she has spent the past few weeks encouraging students at MSU to register to vote.

“When you’re in college you have different needs than others who are voting, so in order for your needs to be represented well, you need to vote,” Larsen said. “Understand what needs are important to you, and vote because voting is one of the easiest ways to do so.”

Larsen is the senator for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences for Student Government and the legislative affairs coordinator. Lately, this consists of her tabling in the Centennial Student Union, putting out posters with QR codes with voter registration and spreading the word to her peers. 

Thanks to her efforts, information for voter registration was posted on the D2L homepage. The advancement of technology within the past decade has made it easier than ever to spread information widely and increase voter turnout.

“I think social media has an impact on voter registration because it has gotten so much easier in the past few years,” Larsen said. 

Many candidates use social media platforms to run their campaign ads to discuss what issues they stand for.

“Just because you see an ad doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true,” Larsen said. “Vote Smart is a website where you can search candidates and can see if they voted yes or no on certain issues and you can see if their views align with your values.”

The MSU library has resources about voter information that students can find online and read about voters’ rights, media coverage of candidates and fact check on the Library Class & Subject Guides page under the political science tab.

“In the smaller elections, there’s a lot more influence your voice has. The candidates are a lot more accessible. That is why it is important to find someone who aligns with your goals no matter what they are,” Larsen said. “Local politicians are the ones who are going to influence you the most so that’s why it’s the most important.”

Although the window to register online has passed, those who wish to vote can participate in same-day registration. Preska is the polling place for students living in the dorms. As for off-campus students, students will have to refer to your Mankato precinct polling place.

Write to Julia Barton at

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