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Voting Rights Symposium, St Thomas University, February 1, 2024

17 Mar 2024 12:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Claudia Dieter and Cheryl Bailey sat with Rita Mills (Roseville Area LWV) for four hours of enrichment at the Voting Rights Symposium held at St. Thomas University February 1, 2024. Sponsored by FairVote Minnesota, this seminar was packed with wisdom, inspiration, and calls to action by a multitude of Minnesota’s elected officials and activists. 

Who spoke? Governor Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Mayor Melvin Carter, SOS Steve Simon, former SOS Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Humphrey School Dean Nisha Botchwey, Rep Athena Hollins, Ward 1 City Council member Anika Bowie, Senator Liz Boldon, Rep Cedrick Frazier, and Rep Emma Greenman, along with professors and academics from the CATO institute to Stanford University. 

Here are some takeaways and highlights, in no particular order: SOS sponsors a bill this session to make RCV possible for all cities if they want it. “Restore the Vote Act’ that passed last session took twenty years of stories, activism, and volunteer work. The SOS met at Camp Ripley to run multiple scenarios to prepare for possible interference from AI and other bad actors. Asian Americans are the fastest growing voting bloc, followed by Hispanics—please make voting spaces welcoming to all, especially those who don’t speak English well. Keep organizing while your elected officials are governing, not just getting them in office. Help them make decisions and support your causes. For cooperative, bipartisan results, watch the rhetoric and language used. Promote same-day registration, which half the country (including MN) uses. Support RCV—it does not favor one party, but decreases the extreme choices made by small numbers at primaries and encourages more civil campaigning since candidates ask for voters to rank them 1st or 2nd. When asked for three actions, the panel offered: get involved, join a group, support a candidate, believe you can effect change, follow local issues on city councils and school boards, engage ten more people, talk to people outside your usual group, get involved in the thing that frustrates you, think about the things that government has done which makes you happy and promote them, talk to all the 16- and 17-year-olds you can about voting! 

A Special quote from Sen Liz Bolden: “If climate change is your issue, then democracy is your issue. If gun control is your issue, then democracy is your issue. Responsive, multiracial, gender-inclusive democracy should be for everyone across the state.”

AG Ellison concluded: “Rev Martin Luther King never said (pause) I HAVE A COMPLAINT!” He urged hope, and reminded the audience that most of the people who worked so hard for civil rights restoration were not elected officials. Our democracy is up to us. Go League of Women Voters!

Symposium on Voting Rights, run by FairVote Minnesota, held 2/1/24 at the College of St. Thomas

FairVote Minnesota presented an excellent program for us on ranked choice voting 9/12/23. Watch the recording on our St. Paul League YouTube site (insert link). 
Thanks to Cheryl B. for the write-up.

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