Monday, April 20, 2009

How connected to the community are student voters? 

It turns out that students who wanted to defend their right to vote aren't so keen on the jury duty that comes with their exercise of citizenship.
Stearns County court officials are struggling with unreturned jury duty questionnaires and with students who claim they aren�t county residents though they registered to vote in the county. Other students never get the questionnaires because they have changed addresses.

�It is a big issue here in Stearns County,� said Tim Roberts, court administrator in Stearns and Benton counties. �I think it becomes an issue when we try to get people in and hold them accountable for jury service.�
Students move often; students in the dorm for fall semester often aren't there in the spring because they found other accommodations or they left the university. The report indicates 24 juror questionnaires sent to student-voters in dorms came back undeliverable. More probably from students in off-campus housing -- they don't know how much. But this begs the question I asked a few years ago: How certain are we that students who vote here really have an interest in the district? I would like in particular to know how supporters of the school district levies last year feel about having solicited votes for the levy from students who won't even bother to show up to jury duty.

Mr. Roberts is later stated to wonder "whether students should vote by absentee ballot in their home county so they don�t end up on a jury list in a county where they live only because they attend school there." Amen, brother! but this does not suit the DFL controlled Secretary of State's office:
The state wants to register as many voters as it can and welcomes the voter registration drives, said Jim Gelbmann, deputy Secretary of State. While acknowledging the unintended consequences, he said that having students vote absentee from their home county eliminates the ease of voting on the campus where students attend classes.
Was one of those unintended consequences the election of Al Franken? Franken won the 18-24 demographic 48-35 with 12% of all voters in that age group.

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