Not voting for the Amendments: Something you should know

NOTE: The original version of this story was updated to clarify the effect of leaving the amendment questions blank. Nowadays, it seems as if you can’t drive anywhere in Minnesota without seeing the “vote yes” or “vote no” yard signs. Pretty sick of it, huh? Most of you feel like you want the election to be over and done with. You already know what you’re voting for and that’s it.

Some of you might even be leaving the amendment category blank. You’re probably wondering why you should care about these amendments or why do you need to vote for them if you don’t have an opinion. All you want to do is vote for the president, the county commissioner and the state senator; why bother with the amendments if they don’t affect you?

If you simply don’t care or don’t have an opinion, think again. You are still technically casting a vote even if you leave the amendment section blank. Yes, you heard me right. By not voting yes or no in the amendment section when you go to the polls, your vote will actually be counted as “voting no.”

“Since 1898, voter ratification of a proposed amendment requires not just more ‘yes’ votes than ‘no’ votes, but a majority of ‘yes’ votes from all ballots cast in the state; non-votes on a ballot measure effectively count as ‘no’ votes,” according to Bill Wareham from a MPR news article.

Andrea Waudby, a member of the UMD College Democrats, believes blank votes may be an advantage to her strong opinion of “vote no” for both amendments.

“I think it is really important because it’s on the flip side of the ballot, so a majority of people might not vote for it and they need a majority to pass it. So I think it’s a good thing I guess, but I don’t think a lot of people know about it,” Waudby said.

Another member of the UMD College Democrats, Kimberly Newton, is surprised at how little people know about these two amendments. Newton hopes this can get the “vote no” campaigns more votes.

“It really amazes me that there is a confusion with the amendments. A lot of people think that yes is no, and no is yes, so hopefully that doesn’t come back to go against us,” Newton said. “It’s encouraging to know that the people who are kind of impartial and decide not to vote can be considered ‘vote no’ anyways.”

Why is this important?

Because your vote can change the outcome.

Logan Bailey, Co-GOTV (Get Out The Vote) Task Force Leader of MPIRG, explains why it is so important to vote for these amendments on November 6.

“I think students are especially important because a lot of these decisions that are being made are going to be around for a very, very long time in our lives. Right now decisions being made in legislation are looking at five to ten years in the future,” Bailey said.

Bailey also said that there are issues right now and there are problems that we are going to have to deal with when we are adults.

“When we are even older and looking at retirement, it is a long stretch,” Bailey said. “So it is important that our voice is heard now for the issues that will come up in the future.”

Hannah Keil, Vice President of External Affairs for UMD Student Association, is confident knowing students would care more if they were aware of this requirement.

“I would say they would take a little more consideration in it. I mean technically if they don’t fill in the bubble, they still have to vote,” said Keil. “I think they would think about it a little more and whether they would vote yes, or they would vote no. They would take each side into consideration.”

“Bottom line: Polls show voter opinion close enough that non-votes could certainly factor in the outcome of either proposal. But strategically, opponents would be unwise to count on that boost,” according to the MPR news article.

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