Winona State students win statewide Ballot Bowl

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
Left to right: Winona State students Ashlyn Crawford, Alison Bettin and Adam Thomson accept an award from Secretary of State Steven Simon for placing first among the four-year universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Volunteers on campus registered 1,861 new voters to win Simon’s challenge, the Ballot Bowl.   (Photo by Brianna Murphy)

Left to right: Winona State students Ashlyn Crawford, Alison Bettin and Adam Thomson accept an award from Secretary of State Steven Simon for placing first among the four-year universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Volunteers on campus registered 1,861 new voters to win Simon’s challenge, the Ballot Bowl. (Photo by Brianna Murphy)

Maddie Swenson / Winonan

Winona State University was awarded for its participation the Ballot Bowl, created by Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon. The students were rewarded for registering 1,861 new Minnesota voters. The percentage of student voters was 21 percent.

“Those are mind blowing numbers,” Simon said. “[They] didn’t let the intensity of the election turn people away from voting.”

Kara Lindaman, political science and public administration professor, said the university was awarded three other awards along with the awards from the 2016 College Ballot Bowl.

Winona State President Scott Olson said this award was reflective of his experiences at Winona State.

“I could not be prouder of Winona State,” Olson said. “Out of all the places I have been, Winona has the most political influence.”

After the award ceremony, Simon asked those in attendance to comment on what Winona State did to have such high voter registration numbers.

Winona State student Elizabeth Casey credited the people who put in the work to register voters as to why the school was so successful.

Lindaman said a total of 80 volunteers helped register students.

“We had a very large number of volunteers and passionate students,” Casey said.

For Lindaman, working with the students on registering voters was worth the effort.

“This endevour, I just get tickled ‘cause it’s fun, was a lot of work,” Lindaman said.

Most of the comments consisted of helping people to understand how important it is to vote. Many also suggested voters leave certain parts of their ballot blank if they do not agree with the standings of the political race.

“It’s a secret ballot,” Simon said. “No one is going to know that you left something blank. It is better not to punish the other offices.”

Some of the students said it was helpful to have so many options to register, such as the paper application, online application and absentee options available in Minnesota.

The state of Minnesota has also been number one out of all U.S. states in voter registration for a total of nine past elections, finishing first again this last election.

Simon said he hoped the work students did to register voters on the Winona State campus is reflective of other campuses in the future.

“I hope it’s clone-able for other campuses,” Simon said.

By Maddie Swenson

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