Proud to be a Minnesotan

Sarah Nealon, print features editor

When I found out that Minnesota voted no on both the same-sex marriage ban and the Voter ID amendment, I was overjoyed, but completely surprised. I honestly thought, despite Minnesota’s solid liberal leanings, that we would be unable to defeat these critical issues. As both races were incredibly close, I’m sure many Minnesotans were disappointed by the results. Here’s why I think Minnesota made the right choice in voting no twice.

Prior to this election, when a choice concerning same-sex marriage was given to voters, they had always voted against it. It had always fallen to the courts and state legislatures to allow it. This year, Maine, Washington, Maryland all legalized it, with Minnesota voting to not make it illegal. These results are unprecedented. Minnesota has always been considered a socially progressive state that supported all kinds of movements, and this election supports that reputation. The fact that Minnesota was part of a historic election in marriage equality made me appreciate just how open and accepting our state is.

While we didn’t legalize same-sex marriage, we took a significant step in that direction. By not banning same-sex marriage, we made the process of allowing it much easier for the future voters.

Voter ID:
I worked as an election judge from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., and my duties included helping people with same-day registration. The precinct that I worked at had 135 people register that day for various reasons, including a recent move or not having voted in the past few years. One concern about the ID amendment was that it might end same-day registration. In my precinct alone, that would have meant that 135 people wouldn’t have had their voices heard.

Many people brought an ID, but discovered that it was invalid when they tried to register. The fact that people are able to vouch for individuals who don’t have ID gave dozens in my precinct the ability to vote. One man came in with his wife, who lacked proper proof of residence, but she was able to vote because he vouched for her. After they finished registering, he said to me, “It was really great that I could just vouch for her. I didn’t know I could do that.” As an election judge, I couldn’t say anything, but in my head, I was repeating, “Then vote no on the voter ID amendment!”

In this election, as we have for the past few, Minnesota had the highest voter turnout. Part of this is because we make it so easy for people to vote. Junior Abbie Barnes, who worked in the 3rd precinct this election, said that her precinct had 97% voter turnout. If we had changed our ID laws, voter turnout would likely have gone down.

The results of this election made me proud to be a Minnesotan, something I had never really felt before. Even though I couldn’t vote this year, I was ecstatic that those who could chose to vote for equality in marriage and equality in voting.