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Secretary Simon Challenges Minnesotans to Return State to Number One in Voter Turnout

February 25, 2016

"Today, I am challenging the people of Minnesota and the thousands of nonprofits and businesses across the state to return Minnesota back to number one in voter turnout in the country."

SAINT PAUL — Today — five days before Precinct Caucuses and the official kick off of the 2016 election — Secretary of State Steve Simon delivered his first address on the state of voting and elections in Minnesota and challenged the people of Minnesota to return the state back to number one in voter turnout in November.

“Today, I am challenging the people of Minnesota and the thousands of nonprofits and businesses across the state to return Minnesota back to number one in voter turnout in the country,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said during his address at the Neighborhood House in St. Paul. “For nine elections in a row we were number one in the country in voter turnout. But in 2014, we fell off our perch. I want us to be number one again.”

During his address, Secretary Simon announced a robust list of new voter outreach initiatives aimed at voters with historically lower turnout rates, including young people, communities of color, and New Americans.

These initiatives, among others, include a new nonpartisan Pledge to Vote program designed to register hard-to-reach voters; expanding the number of foreign languages supported for key voter fact sheets, instructions, and applications; a coordinated push to recruit both more bilingual election judges and new student election judges; Minnesota’s first ever statewide mock election for high school students, called Minnesota Students Vote 2016; and a new voter registration competition for college campuses, called Minnesota College Ballot Bowl.

“These initiatives are designed to take the Secretary of State’s Office in a new direction of voter outreach that focuses more on partnerships with nonprofits, businesses, and schools throughout the state,” said Secretary Simon. “I hope that these efforts will not only help us register more voters, but will help get Minnesota back to its rightful position as the national champion of voter turnout.“

See below for additional details on each initiative:

  • A new Pledge to Vote program designed to register hard-to-reach voters. Secretary Simon’s office will be reaching out to thousands of nonprofits, businesses, food shelves, military family organizations, and human services providers to ask them to do their part in registering people to vote.

    Participating partners in the Pledge to Vote program will work in a nonpartisan manner to not only register their communities to vote, but encourage those registering to fill out a pledge-to-vote form. As Election Day nears, the Secretary of State’s Office will send a reminder-to-vote card in the mail to all Minnesotans who filled out a pledge-to-vote form.

    All participating partners will receive a “voter-registration-in-a-box” kit, which will include voter registration applications, pledge-to-vote forms, pre-paid return envelopes, and “I Will Vote” stickers. Read more here.

  • Moving to a train-the-trainer model. Secretary Simon is launching a train-the-trainer model for voter outreach. Voter outreach staff will provide trainings and workshops to partners in the Pledge & Registration program so they can train others in their communities. This is a new strategy for our office with proven results in other states.

  • Minnesota Students Vote 2016 | Coming this Fall: Minnesota’s first ever statewide mock election for high school students, called Minnesota Students Vote 2016. High school students across the state will vote for who they think should be our next President -- and get hands-on experience with the electoral process. Results will be announced shortly before Election Day. Minnesota Students Vote 2016 is about getting good habits started early with our youngest citizens. Read more here.

  • Minnesota College Ballot Bowl | Coming this Fall: a new voter registration competition where campuses across the state will compete against one another over the course of several weeks to register the most students. Whether it’s the Gusties, or the Gophers, the Bulldogs or the Huskies -- this competition will help increase voter registration efforts on campuses throughout the state. Read more here.

  • Expanding the number of foreign languages supported for key voter fact sheets, instructions, and applications. Currently, in addition to English, the Secretary of State’s Office supports Hmong, Somali, Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese. By Election Day, the office will expand that list to include Mandarin, Oromo, Amharic, Laotian, and Cambodian.

  • Leading a coordinated push to recruit both more bilingual election judges and new student election judges. The Secretary of State’s Office will be reaching out to and partnering with businesses, city governments, and community organizations to encourage Minnesotans to apply to work on Election Day. Partners will be supplied with a toolkit with outreach materials. Read more here.

  • Leading the statewide effort for National Voter Registration Day. National Voter Registration Day, which takes place this year on Tuesday, September 27th, is a national, nonpartisan voter registration awareness campaign. Secretary Simon serves on the national steering committee for the campaign and last year, almost 130,000 people nationwide registered just on that single day.

  • New steps to communicate with young voters by mail. Between now and Election Day, the Secretary of State’s Office will be reaching out to nearly 100,000 unregistered voters, including many who have just turned 18, with a monthly mailing encouraging them to register to vote. This new effort will help encourage pre-election registration and decrease wait times on Election Day. Read more here.

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Contact: Ryan Furlong, 651-297-8919, ryan.furlong@state.mn.us

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