Voter Engagement

Community Engagement Center

Plan Your Vote

Check out this website for ways to plan your vote!

Gusties Vote 2020 Goals

  1. Register 85% of eligible Gustie students to vote
  2. Increase the turnout rate to 90% of registered students
  3. Engage in non-partisan programming to increase voter education while developing a comprehensive guide for national, state, and local candidates
  4. Remove barriers to participation 

History of Gustie Voters

As a liberal arts college, Gustavus has demonstrated a solid commitment to encouraging civic engagement throughout the student body. The Gustavus mission statement promotes “educating students for a life of leadership and service.” Here at Gustavus, we strive to fulfill this statement through the implementation of Community and Justice, which are two of Gustavus’ five core values. These values are the center for all things at Gustavus, including courses, athletics, and student organizations, which have helped to foster a spirit of civic engagement within the student body. - In response to low voter participation (19.1%) in the 2014 election, Gustavus formed its first campus-wide Voter Education Committee for the 2016 election. That year, Gustavus’ voter participation rose to 60.5% and the school became the winner of the first ever “Ballot Bowl” having had the highest number of registered students among Minnesota private colleges. In 2018, the College again became the winner of the State of Minnesota Ballot Bowl, having had 55% of students participate in voting. 

Why You Should Vote

It’s your right!! Being eligible to vote is one of the many privileges we have as United State’s Citizens. For hundreds of years, people have fought and died to achieve the right to vote, which we too often take for granted today. 

  • 1776: only white men who were at least 21years of age and owned land were allowed to vote.
  • 1868: the country expanded voting rights to all male citizens. 
  • 1870: 15th Amendment vowed to eliminate racial barriers when voting; Native Americans were still denied the right to vote; men of color were still prevented from voting through the use of voter discrimination tactics.
  • 1924: Indian Citizenship Act grants Native Americans citizenship and voting rights.
  • 1920: 100 years ago, the struggle for Women’s suffrage secured the legal right for white women to vote nationally. 
  • 1965: 55 years ago the Voting Rights Act was passed, which aimed to overcome voting barriers at the polling place, most notably targeting black citizens.
  • 1971: 26th Amendment lowers voting age to 18.
  • 1975: Voting Rights Act is renewed, permanently banning literacy tests nationwide; add Section 203 which requires translated voting materials in areas with a large number of citizens with limited English proficiency.
  • 1984: federal Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act requires polling places to be accessible for those with disabilities.

In a mere century, the United States expanded individual voting rights to encompass the majority of its population rather than the minority. By continuing to utilize your rights, you are not only fulfilling duty to those who are unable to vote, but you are honoring the hard-work so many individuals fought for to obtain for you.

Your voice matters. One single vote can affect the turnout of an election, as we have seen in some of the closest elections in US history. 

  • 2000: Al Gore narrowly lost the state of Florida to George Bush by a mere 537 votes, which allowed George Bush to be elected president by a .009% margin. Had a few hundred more people turned out to support Al Gore, George Bush could have missed out on being president for his 8 years in office.
  • 2016: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, but Donald Trump managed to secure more votes in states which uphold a “winner takes all” system where the popular vote gets all of the electoral votes. Had those few states seen slightly different results, the US could have seen a completely different election year.
  • 2018: The House race for Minnesota’s 1st District, which includes St. Peter, was decided by just over 1,000 votes.
  • Low Turnout: When eligible voters do not turnout, not only are they forfeiting their vote, but they are giving more power to those who do vote. A Portland State University Study found that a mere 15% of voters participate in local elections, which involve mayors, council members, and other local offices which have a direct influence on our local communities. A miniscule portion of local citizens end up determining the changes that will affect the entire community.

A few extra voices have the potential to change history. Those few voices can add up very quickly as individuals continue to feel empowered and valued with the impacts of their votes.