Winona State boosts voting turnout efforts

Winona State boosts voting turnout efforts

Alek LaShomb, News Editor

As Election Day approaches in the United States, Winona State University faculty, staff and students are ramping up voting turnout efforts.

The general election’s last day of in-person voting is on Nov. 3.

Alissa Alzate is an associate professor of political science at Winona State and is a part of an initiative called the American Democracy Project, an effort aimed to increase voter turnout among the student population.

The Project has had to adjust under COVID-19, changing methods from in-person events to mass communication campaigns.

These campaign methods include signs, buttons, shirts and pamphlets that are designed to promote voting, which are then delivered to university buildings, Alzate said.

The Project’s social media presence has also increased during this election more so than in previous years, utilizing social media slogans such as “Warriors Vote”, Alzate said.

“Warriors Vote” is the university’s “Presidential Commitment to “Ask Every Student to Vote” through voter registration, voter education and voter turnout”” as stated on the “Warriors Vote” social media accounts.

Alzate also said in addition to voter outreach campaigns, the Project also aids students with information and transportation to polling centers, which have changed this year.

West Campus’s polling location was changed from Cotter Schools to the Winona Senior Friendship Center on 251 Main St., which is over a mile and a half away from campus, compared to the two-block distance from Lourdes Hall to Cotter Schools.

Alzate hopes the turnout will be higher for this year’s political races, pointing to the fact that the 2018 midterm election had an average national college student turnout of 50%.

Along with the American Democracy Project, two prominent clubs on campus will also be seeking to increase voter turnout.
Danielle Kisling is a fourth-year student at Winona State studying therapeutic recreation and is the president of the College Republicans club.

The College Republicans have worked closely with Minnesota’s Trump Victory campaign, partaking in door knocking and attending grass root rallies which have included the likes of First Congressional District representative Jim Hagedorn, who is also up for reelection against Democratic challenger Dan Feehan, Kisling said.

Kisling said other approaches, such as a strong social media presence, are also being used.

Kisling said she believes that election fraud is a serious concern for this upcoming election, claiming the Democratic party would benefit from interference.

Despite these concerns, Kisling said to “go vote and make sure you’re knowledgeable on certain topics.”

The majority of the College Republicans club members say they plan on voting at the polls on election day.

However, many members of the College Democrats club have already voted.

Eric Shultz is a third-year student at Winona State studying history education and is the president of the College Democrats.
Most of the College Democrats’ voting turnout efforts have been focused on social media outreach and phone banking, a method where members call constituents asking if they plan on voting.

The College Democrats have also been in coordination with the Winona Democratic Farmer and Labor party, which assists the club with election educational literature that is located at each dorm, Schultz said.

This year the College Democrats have endorsed candidates running for office in local, state and federal level elections, something that was done to give incoming freshman a better idea which candidates fit their preference, Schultz said.

Unlike the College Republicans, the College Democrats believe the hype around voter fraud is unfounded, which has led them to be more concerned about the effects of perpetuating voter fraud claims rather than the actual threat, Schultz said.

Schultz added that students should “vote like your rights depend on it, regardless of your affiliation.”

For those looking for more information on campus regarding the upcoming election, they can reach out to the American

Democracy Project, which is headed by political science and public administration professor Kara Lindaman, the College Republicans or the College Democrats.