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A letter to Carleton voters

Never have I seen red “I Voted” stickers worn with such pride. But then, rarely does it come with such a sense of victory and achievement. For managing to vote amid the press of 9th Week, “I Voted” not only signifies a successful and meaningful act of civic engagement but also screams “This is my trophy.” To the Carls who came to vote in the presidential primary, thank you, a hundred times thank you, for your patience and your determination.

It delighted me to see so many of your familiar faces coming to vote, and as an election judge, I was amazed that more than a quarter of Carleton students came to vote in a mere primary. So many came that we received a second allotment of ballots just to meet demand. Your engagement and dedication blow away the bandied-about concepts of how young people behave politically, and I could hardly be prouder of you.

What makes this especially noteworthy is that you stayed. You stayed to vote, even though the lines were long. You stayed to vote even though you really had better things to do than stand in line. But you stayed to vote because engaging our republic with the power of your voices and votes showers the future of our society like life-giving rain. That gift is worth the sacrifice of your time, and I am deeply moved by the outpouring of your involvement and care for society and state alike.

Therefore, I wish to apologize for frustrations, and promise that we are already working to make this better. This is the first time Minnesota has ever held a presidential primary using ballots. The process was new and existing election processes did not fit it. Minnesota used a barely-fledged digital system for a new election. Consequently, some of your residences disappeared from our records and had to be typed in by hand. Almost all of you have changed housing and therefore needed to be registered at a new address. And to no fault of our own, our ballot counting machine suffered two separate hardware issues that rendered it temporarily inoperative (failure apparently unprecedented in Northfield history).

On behalf of the City of Northfield, I apologize for the long line and promise we will make it better. We will ensure improve the hardware to enable improvements to operation. We will ensure that records are complete to account for all housing in this precinct. We shall strive to find more judges to volunteer for registration because voting should never present a burden to voters. I am sorry it felt like a fiasco; we judges felt that frustration and anxiety too as we worked to have everyone registered as quickly and as accurately as possible.. So thank you for your resolve; you earned your stickers for a job well done. Thank you for your involvement in and concern for our country. Thank you for the camaraderie and goodwill that allows you to play NSW-style games (see? They aren’t so bad) in line. And thank you for sharing that spirit of Carleton with everyone else in society, for all of us could use a little more caring attention.

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