In an effort to persuade students to vote in local elections, Ward 3 City Councilman Jacob Frey is looking to University of Minnesota-area landlords for help. At a City Council meeting last week, Frey announced he will introduce a plan at the end of the month that would require landlords to hand out voter registration documents to residents when they move in. The idea aims to make voter registration easier for student renters and to increase the number of students turning out on Election Day.
Frey said he hopes the ease of access to voter registration would make voting more appealing to students, which he said is a group that could hold a big chunk of political power in Minneapolis should voter turnout increase. “Like going to a hotel with a mint on your pillow, you walk into your new apartment and you have got a voter [registration document] right there,” he said.
In the 2014 primary election, the University area and nearby neighborhoods Marcy Holmes and Southeast Como saw the lowest voter turnout in the city. University-area voting precincts in the Second and Third Wards saw only 0.69 percent and 3.27 percent voter turnout, respectively.
Frey said low voter turnout in student-occupied areas tends to stem from a lack of knowledge about local elections and the candidates, adding that student populations are difficult to engage in politics.