For first-time voters or voters who have moved since the last election, finding their polling place can be a bit confusing. In a college town like Duluth, students who live on campus have two very different options when it comes to voting locations, which depend on where they attend school.
Since the University of Minnesota Duluth is large enough to have its own polling precinct, students who live on campus can stay on campus to vote. Students who live on campus are already registered to vote through UMD Housing and Residence Life records.
Students at the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) do not have that privilege.
“The students here have to vote at the Vineyard Church,” said Regina Adamy, coordinator of residential life and housing at CSS.
Adamy said students do have resources available to travel to their polling place.
“The Student Senate here takes care of organizing ways for students to get over there to vote,” Adamy said.
Melissa Marvin, president of the Student Senate at CSS, said the organization is working hard to get students out to vote.
“We’ve got two school vans that will be traveling back and forth to the Vineyard Church all day on Tuesday," Marvin said. "It’s a little stressful. Last election our transport fell through at the last minute, but I think being able to get students there really helps voter turnout.”
Students living on campus at CSS can have their information sent to the Vineyard Church ahead of time to aid in the registration process. This is similar to UMD's registration process, Marvin said.
“I think the shuttles help voter turnout, but if students were able to vote on campus here, I think turnout would increase tenfold,” Marvin said.
CSS is not large enough to warrant its own voting precinct, but the Student Senate is developing plans to change that.
“The plan is just starting out, but we really think this needs to happen for the next election,” Marvin said.
Students in Duluth who live off campus can find their polling places on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s polling place finder.
“There seems to be a lot of confusion,” said Brian Downing of UMD’s MPIRG office. “People seem to think they can’t vote here either because they didn’t preregister, or they think the voter ID law is already in effect.”
For this year’s election, voters will still be able to register on Election Day, regardless of their polling location. Students who live on the UMD campus only need their student ID.
Other voters can register at their polling place on election day by providing proof of residence such as a photo ID and a bill containing their current address. Details on what kind of IDs and bills are acceptable can be found on the Minnesota Secretary of State's voter registration page.