With the midterm election approaching, candidates running in local races have come to campus and have collaborated with clubs to convince Carleton’s students to turn out to vote in Northfield on Tuesday.
Among those who have come to campus is the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party congressional candidate Mike Obermuller. On Sunday evening, Obermuller visited Myers and Cassat study breaks to increase voter turnout.
Speaking in a relaxed form, he argued that Northfield is one of the few districts that could change party hands.
Promoting his stances on women’s health issues, environmental issues and student loans, Obermuller said, “The world is run by those who show up.”
He urged students to vote in order to help reduce the congressional gridlock and to replace the conservative Minnesota congressman John Kline.
Obermuller also hoped to encourage students to register to vote in Northfield rather than requesting an absentee ballot from their home state, which may be a less competitive district.
Accompanying Obermuller was city council member Suzie Nakazian, running for re-election. She wanted to acquaint students with local issues, so they will feel informed and interested in voting on local issues.
Promising to preserve the “progressive” balance on the council, she made a pitch to the student community based on “keeping Northfield Northfield” and promoting passenger rail links with the Cities.
Candidates have collaborated with student organizations. For instance, Nakazian worked with CarlDems and spoke at the Just Food Summit last Saturday in order to increase awareness of local issues.
In addition, she held a town-hall style meeting and spoke to the CSA about the rail line project.
Nakazian’s colleague, councilmember at large Rhonda Powell, attended a candidate meeting in the Great Hall on Thursday and will make appearances at study breaks on Sunday.
Powell also worked with students on issues, including social justice, smart growth and environmental sustainability.
The political efforts made on campus are part of a wider pitch to increase voter turnout.
Midterm elections typical have low turnout rates and are often dominated by an older, more conservative demographic.
Students often do not turn out because they feel less informed about the issues on the ballot. This lower turnout is an obstacle to left-wing candidates that rely on student votes.
For example, state representative David Bly lost re-election in 2010 by 37 votes, and Senator Al Franken won his seat by 225 seats, one of the closest races in Senate history.
Bly and Franken attribute the close races to the low turnout of their, typically, staunch supports, such as students.
These candidates pay a lot of attention to Carleton because as Bly said, his re-election depends on “what Carleton does.”