On Nov. 6, 2018, MSUM students will have to venture a little further to vote for the first time in six years.
Since 2012, MSUM has hosted its polling place for elections in the CMU. This year, the same polling place will see a change in locations.
Lisa Bode, Governmental Affairs director for the city of Moorhead, said the decision was made by the City Council last January based on a recommendation by the City Clerk’s office. Bode was not involved in the initial decision, but she has taken a part in communication as this has become a public issue. The City Clerk’s reasoning for the move was based on the limited turnout of voters in primary elections. Bode said there has been pushback on the change.
Layne Anderson, the Director of Student Union & Activities, said that they are supportive of student voting accessibility, and would be willing to accommodate the polling place again if it were to return.
“We became aware … sometime this summer that the city had made that change,” said Anderson. “We had not been asked about making the change. They had not informed us about any concerns about the facility being a precinct, so we were a bit surprised that that change had been made by the city.”
Anderson said that the CMU is supportive of student government, which has been an advocate of the on-campus polling place in the past.
On Oct. 18, 2018 Mayor Del Rae Williams visited a weekly Student Senate meeting to discuss the change and how it came about. Williams apologized for the new location, and asked the student senators how they would like to proceed in the future.
Student senators Maddie Jo Carlson, William Hagen and Jamison Cortinas attended a recent city council meeting to voice their concerns about the move.
Cortinas said that he personally had not been made aware of the move until the beginning of the fall 2018 semester, when he began preparing to promote voting on campus. Cortinas said that they are working towards bringing the polling place back for the 2020 elections.
Currently, Student Senate is working with other organizations on campus to ensure students still make it out to vote. With the help of the Residential Hall Association and Dinning Services, they have distributed voting information pamphlets to all on-campus dining options and housing.
On Election Day, Student Senate will be providing transportation from campus to the new polling place. This shuttling service will be running from the CMU parking lot and the Nelson-Dahl Loop. The transports will be leaving for the voting precinct every 15 minutes, and run for the entire voting day.
Voting will be open on Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The precincts containing the MSUM area (5a & 5b) will be held at Grace United Methodist Church on 1120 17th St S. A full list of polling places can be found at http://www.ci.moorhead.mn.us/government/elections#FindYourPollingPlace.