Abortion and climate change push young voters to the polls in Minnesota
Early opinion polls said 63% of voters voted as Democrats.
MINNEAPOLIS – Abortion, climate change and justice reform were high on students’ minds as they headed to the polls Tuesday.
Two years ago, 54% of voters under the age of 30 participated in the polls, up 9% from previous presidential years. In 2018, 36% of young voters cast their ballots, 11% more than in the previous midterm elections.
“Obviously, I grew up here in Minneapolis to kill George Floyd,” said Henry Anderson, a senior student at the University of Minnesota.
Anderson said these protests pushed him to the polls along with the imminent threat to democracy.
He also saw his bills rise.
“I live in Dinkytown here in a neighborhood next to the University of Minnesota campus and the rent has gotten really expensive over the years.”
Sarah Wiig, who is very young, said she and her friends talk about abortion rights all the time.
“I was very worried that my rights as a woman would be taken away,” she said. “If there’s a voice being heard, I want it to be my voice.”
“I think a large number of us think the climate crisis is real,” Will Pierce said.
Pierce helps run DFL student organizations at Macalester College. They said issues like climate and abortion inspire young people to take action.
“We were presented with a future that was different from the older generations, both when it came to the climate crisis and on other issues,” Pierce said.
According to an NBC poll, 63% of voters under the age of 30 vote as Democrats. This is the highest percentage in any age group. 35% voted Republican.
John Rachel, a senior official at M.
One of the important issues for John Richell was law enforcement support.
“The crime around the campus was probably about the economy when I went to the polls,” Rachel said.
The program, led by the Department of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, aims to open the conversation between people with different opinions.
Doug Hartmann, professor of sociology, started the Public Life Project last year.
The project organizes events to open discussions about religion, politics, and misinformation to students and sometimes to the public.
“It’s kind of a multi-faceted suite of programs here on campus, designed to help us address issues of free speech and polarization, conflict, and division,” Hartmann said. “To make democracy work, it can’t just be about you, it has to be about you and the communities in which you live.
The program also holds trainings and workshops for faculty and students to facilitate healthy conversations about difficult topics and how to talk to people who have different opinions.
Ruthvin Gardiner, a graduate student involved in the project, said that coming from the diverse country of Trinidad and Tobago prompted him to encourage other students to have more conversations about their views.
“The really important thing for me is building bridges and relationships with people across different religious and political lines,” Gardiner said. Part of that is the ability to engage in an active intellectual dialogue and dialogue with these people.
The project started last academic year and has attracted students from different backgrounds.
U of M Senior Ian Gullickson was homeschooled and said most of the people he grew up with were conservative, but he had more liberal views.
“I think we struggle a lot talking to each other,” Gulikson said. “People’s ideas and attitudes have really evolved.”
Gullickson says the programs he attended through the Public Life Project have helped him bring people together.
He said that listening and asking questions can often help people with polarized opinions discuss where they come from.
“Share your stories,” Gullikson said. “I think stories and narrative can be really powerful. Instead of just throwing in stats.”
Avni Varadan, a U of M student, grew up in Shakopee Minnesota, where she said she struggled when growing up as a person of color.
“Growing up as an Indian in this community was a challenge,” she said. “But also, it helped me learn a lot about how important these conversations are.”
Varadan has gone to Public Life Project events and is president of the U of M’s World Cafe, another organization that encourages students to discuss ideas.
“Students specifically, we tend to walk away from that conversation sometimes because we’re afraid of what people might think of our opinions,” Varadan said. “If you had this conversation, you’d likely understand, well, that’s where this person is coming from. And I hope they understand where I’m coming from.”
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