MINNEAPOLIS — People from all walks of life have joined forces to promote MPLS Votes 2022, a citywide effort to make sure people are ready to vote in the midterm election.
Representatives of the business community, nonprofits and University of Minnesota student government joined Mayor Jacob Frey Wednesday to announce the nonpartisan campaign.
"This is about who we are as a people in our city," Frey told reporters. "We vote!"
He said the city has boasted strong turnout traditionally and requests for absentee ballots at the Minneapolis Elections and Voter Services office are already running 30% ahead of the 2018 midterm.
"We can’t stop there. We have to make sure that communities that have not had as high voting rates have the access, the opportunity, and the know-how to get registered to vote."
Wednesday's event was hosted by the Devil's Advocate, a pub located on Nicollet Mall. Erik Forsberg, who owns Devil's Advocate and Dan Kelly's Pub, said customers at both restaurants will be getting flyers informing them how to take part in the election.
"Everybody can make an effort to strengthen our democracy and make themselves a part of our community. Our small effort is being able to do that," Forsberg said.
University of Minnesota student turnout has historically compared well with that of peer institutions, and student leaders want to make sure it doesn't fade without the buzz of a presidential election.
The U of M student government's Row the Vote 2022 campaign is up and running. In addition to a web-based connections to voter registration sites there's an effort underway across the Twin Cities campus to engage with students.
"We've actually hired 15 campus voting captains to really help engage in peer-to-peer election turnout and voter registration efforts," Flora Yang, the undergraduate student body president explained.
She said students who are undecided about whether to vote in Minnesota or take part in their home state elections are encouraged to pre-register here in case they have to make a last-minute decision to vote here.
"The first question I usually ask is, 'Are you sure you're going to BE in your home state when it comes time to vote?"
Brandon Williams, a fellow at the Minneapolis Foundation and former Augsburg College student body president, said the effort to engage potential voters is an ongoing conversation to help them understand their power to have impact on society.
"In terms of working with people with different generations, different backgrounds, bringing that to the conversations and really getting people to turn out to vote is really our priority," Williams explained.
The Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses to make sure their employees have an opportunity to vote, and to make sure they know how to take part.
"Businesses around Minneapolis are taking action to turn out the vote," Jonathan Weinhagen, the President and CEO of the Minneapolis Chamber, told reporters.
"My personal favorite is Vote Hazy IPA by 56 Brewing which includes a QR code on every can that directs people to the Secretary of State’s web site!"
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