Seldom do students get the chance to register to vote and bounce in a moonwalk with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak in the same day.
But on Northrop Plaza on Wednesday, that’s just what they were doing.
The goal of the University of Minnesota’s first Voterpalooza was to register 1,000 students to vote. The event was primarily organized by the Minnesota Student Association and the Black Student Union and featured politically active student groups and speakers like Rybak and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents the University of Minnesota area.
Only 354 students were registered to vote Wednesday, according to Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, which attended the event. College Republicans and Students for Obama joined other student groups on Northrop Plaza.
“We’re just trying to register as many students to vote as possible,” MSA President Taylor Williams said.
Efforts to register students will continue through Tuesday, he said, which is the last day to pre-register for the Nov. 6 election.
Volunteers sported free Voterpalooza T-shirts with the slogan “Vote or Die.”
Students for Obama President Laura Pratt said the slogan portrayed the importance of this year’s election. She said voting is “a really, really important thing for students to do,” especially this year.
Williams said the speakers invited to the nonpartisan event were purposefully contacted so every viewpoint was present.
Ellison spoke to the assembled students, denouncing the proposed voter ID and marriage amendments. He also stressed that there are only 27 days left until the issues are decided. His speech was followed with an address by Lois Conroy, who is running for Hennepin County judge.
Chris Fields, Ellison’s opponent in the upcoming election, spoke later in the day.
‘It’s like the state fair’
The Black Student Union hosts an annual carnival during homecoming week, along with other events, said BSU President Kynesha Patterson.
“It’s a celebration to give our peers something fun to do,” she said.
This year, BSU combined the carnival with Voterpalooza and began working with MSA on the joint event, she said. As a result, carnival elements like popcorn, cotton candy and a moonwalk were available.
Rybak, who also spoke out against the proposed amendments, used the moonwalk for promotional purposes. Williams said students who registered to vote were allowed to jump in the moonwalk with Rybak.
Students were attracted to the event by the politics and fun.
Pre-pharmacy freshman Melanie Breuer said she came to the event to register to vote.
“Plus I saw a bouncy house,” she said.
Breuer said she listened to Ellison speak, received a free shirt, food and a sticker.
“It’s like the state fair,” she said. “It’s a good way to raise awareness.”
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