Students misinformed before voting on campus

Illustration by Samantha Church

Illustration by Samantha Church

Editors note: A clarification has been made on this article stating where on campus organizations received information to tell students. 11/8/2018

On Tuesday, Nov. 6 precinct 10 voters who live on campus took to the polls in the Kirby Ballroom thinking they could use their UCard to register if they were not preregistered to vote already. They were misinformed.

Students who live on campus were told by numerous on campus organizations that if they needed to register at the polls, all they needed was their student identification card (UCard). However, this was not the case.

On campus organizations say they were told of this information from the Vice Chancellor and Minnesota Secretary of State offices.

The UCard would only cover the proof of residence portion of the voter registration process, not the personal identification section.

Students who registered prior to election day did not encounter this issue. This was the only instance where all they needed was their student UCard.

According to the Duluth City Clerk Chelsea Helmer and the Minnesota Secretary of State website, students who were not pre-registered were asked to bring a UCard but also needed to provide either the last four digits of their social security number or their Minnesota drivers license number in order to same day register.

Election volunteers donning red “ask me” shirts reported that 96 individuals complained about being turned away because they didn’t have the proper identification.

“From my understanding with speaking with the head judges, they could go get that information and come back and vote,” Duluth City Clerk Chelsea Helmer said. “Most folks have a social security number, so its just a matter of if they can find that information.”

It is unclear how many students were turned away from the polls after being told they did not have the proper information and how many of those students returned to complete the voter registration process.

Director of marketing and public relations Lynne Williams issued a statement regarding the miscommunication.

“We are aware and regret that there was confusion on campus yesterday in regards to students registering to vote. Information from the MN Secretary of State says that college students who live on campus can register to vote with a college ID and a campus housing list. UMD provided election officials at the polling place on campus with a list of all students who live on campus. In addition, the voter registration form asks for registrants to list their driver's license number, last four digits of their social security number, or note they have neither.”

The university said that they will be following up with the Secretary of State's office to ask for further clarification moving forward. They also encourage students who had difficulties during this election to contact the city clerk with the City of Duluth.

This is not the the first time an incident like this has occurred at a college precinct. There are reports of similar miscommunications occuring this year at the College of Benedict and in previous years at the the University of Minnesota Morris.

As of right now there is no word on the source of the voter miscommunication. Associated parties are investigating a solution.

Contributors to this story are Skylar Neuber, Samantha Church, Natalie Grant and Zack Benz

NewsThe Bark staff