UMD guest speakers say vote 'no' twice

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At an event held at the UMD campus Tuesday, Oct. 30., MPIRG invited two guest speakers to talk to students about why it is important to vote and, more specifically, why they should vote no on both of the 2012 Minnesota amendments.

The speakers were Charles Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota, and Tom Kayser, partner from the Robins, Kaplan, Miller, and Ciresi Law Firm. Both presented arguments about why they believe the Minnesota amendments should not pass.

Samuelson and Kayser emphasized the importance of votes from the student population, saying that students aren't exactly known to be the first ones in line on Election Day, if they even get in line at all. The speakers said that, as a whole, students can make a huge difference in the election turnouts and should take advantage of the right to vote.

Kayser addressed arguments in favor of the marriage amendment, saying those who favor the amendment believe it's an "attack on marriage" or a "harm to the children." He countered the first argument by admitting that in his 52 years of marriage, he has never felt attacked by homosexual or mixed-race relationships. He also responded to the second argument, saying there is no proof that homosexual relationships are a "harm to the children."

Samuelson presented several statistics relating to the amendment:

  • Number of students in Minnesota enrolled in 4-year colleges: 338,000
  • Percent of students who vote: 30% in a presidential election year
  • In the 2008 election, there were 2, 900,000 Minnesota cast ballots, making our state number one in the country. Seventy-five percent of individuals who were eligible to vote did in fact vote. The 25 percent of individuals who were eligible to vote but didn't came to about 1 million.
  • In the 2010 election, 2 million people voted, and 2 million people sat it out. Fifteen percent of college students voted.
  • In the 2000 presidential election between Bush and Gore, Gore lost by 371 votes in Florida. If that many more people in Florida voted for Gore, he would have became president.
  • The 2008 election winner won by less than 600 votes.

Samuelson used these statistics to show how different the election turnouts could be if everybody voted. He emphasized the phrase, "Elections are all about power."

While expressing his opposition to the voter ID amendment, Samuelson offered a statistic about voter fraud findings in the United States. Between 2001 and 2010, the entire U.S. cast 649 million ballots, and 13 votes were found as voter fraud, causing an error rate of 0.0002 percent.

Samuelson said that this is an insignificant amount and that it is simply being put on the ballot to keep certain social groups that move a lot from voting, including people of lower classes as well as students. He said that the government isn't doing anything for these groups right now, and unless they show up and vote, it will remain this way.

If this amendment passes, Samuelson said it will prevent one to nine percent of voters the right to vote. One percent of the United States population is about 29,000 individuals.

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