A blog to keep current on MPIRG'S fight for social and environmental justice.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Youth Turnout Key Factor in Defeat of the Voter ID and Marriage Amendments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                            November 8, 2012
Contact: Josh Winters, Executive Director: 612-205-6564, josh@mpirg.org
                Emma Wright, Board Chair: 952-212-3253, wrigh673@umn.edu
                Kristian Nyberg, Board Member: 952-564-7410, nyber114@umn.edu
                Mariana Glitsos, Board Vice Chair: 218-341-0863, glit0005@d.umn.edu

We now know the outcome of the highly controversial constitutional amendments and it is clear that students and youth voter turnout was a key factor in their defeat.  Across the state, youth voted in record numbers with large percentages voting in opposition to both proposed amendments on voter ID and marriage. 

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) was active at the state legislature, through testimony and student engagement of their elected officials, to prevent these amendments from being placed on the ballot.  Now they played a pivotal role in driving youth voter turnout.  Since April, MPIRG has had over 75,000 conversations with youth and community members to vote “NO” on November 6.  In the days leading up to and on Election Day, MPIRG made over 25,000 calls to students and knocked on over 5,800 doors and had 8,863 conversations with youth across the state. 

“It is powerful to see our generation rise up this election cycle to send a strong signal to decision makers: students vote and we reject the divisive politics that was the hallmark of the 2012 elections,” said Emma Wright, a student at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and board chair of MPIRG.   “We said ‘no’ to the voter restriction amendment as it would negatively impact tens of thousands of youth voters.  We said ‘no’ to the anti-marriage amendment because this generation doesn’t believe in discrimination against loving relationships.”

More generally, youth heavy voting precincts saw large numbers of students voting “no”.  Of those youth who turned out, 79% voted in opposition to the marriage amendment and 69% voted in opposition to the voter ID amendment.  Compared to overall state turnout of 54% voting no on the marriage amendment and 52% voting no on voter ID and, this represents a substantial generational divide.   Polls released at the end of October indicated both amendments were in a dead heat heading into November 6.  As both amendments failed on such narrow margins, it is clear that students were a deciding factor.

“We sent a clear signal about the kind of politics we want to see in Minnesota,” said Kristian Nyberg, a student at the University of Minnesota – Morris and board member of MPIRG.  “Instead of passing constitutional amendments that divide our communities and are ultimately rejected, we expect our elected officials to focus instead on how to strengthen our communities and address the real challenges of our day: rebuilding a just economy, global warming, higher education debt, and corporate accountability.”

From southern Minnesota to the North Shore, students came out in record numbers. “For those who think the youth are disengaged from politics and apathetic – think again,” said Mariana Glitsos, a student at the University of Minnesota – Duluth and board vice chair of MPIRG.  “We demonstrated once again that youth are actively engaged in politics and how we make decisions as a community.  November 6 may have been a high water mark for youth civic engagement, but it certainly isn’t the end.  We will take harness this momentum and engagement and go to our city councils, county boards, to the state legislature, and all the way to Washington D.C. to make sure the issues we care about are being prioritized and addressed by our elected leaders. We are here to stay and we will have our say.”


Additional details on youth voter turnout and percentages of youth voting “no” in youth heavy precincts are available upon request by contacting Joshua Winters at josh@mpirg.org or 612.205.6564.

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