Instructor Chad Israelson Explains the Importance of Minnesota’s General Election

History instructor Chad Israelson knows a lot about American history and current events. It made sense to sit down with him and chat about the importance of the Nov. 6 election, and why everyone should vote.

Chad Israelson.

RCTC: How important is the election coming up, locally and statewide?

Chad Israelson: It’s very important, especially locally. 20 years ago, I would have paid much more attention to the national politics than I did local. But more and more I’ve begun to realize that local politics are the things that affect our lives. If we’re in education, it matters who controls the governor’s seat, and it matters who controls the Minnesota House and Senate. Minnesota is the best state in the union – almost every single election we have the highest [voter] turnout. And that’s great, but when you still consider how many people sit it out… it’s the kind of thing that within the last 60 years people were being killed just to register to vote. We need to remember how much people fought for that, whether it’s women or African Americans. To not drive a few blocks away or whatever and exercise that, to me, is unacceptable.

And in our political state of affairs right now, it seems like every election matters. They are vital right now.

If I am a student, what do I do to find information?

Even if you’re not from Rochester you can vote in Rochester. Minnesota has a very easy voter registration process. With that in mind there is no excuse not to because it is so easy. As far as information goes, there are voting guides on the internet. Post-Bulletin, check that out. Minneapolis Star Tribune. Go to that site, type in voting, voting guide.

As far as voting goes, sometimes voting is treated as a privilege when it is a right – felons unable to vote, poll stations being closed, and voter registrations wiped. Any comment on that?

It drives me wild. Voter suppression is very real and there is not enough attention paid to it. We talk about the 53,000 in Georgia, and people being wiped from the rolls. And there are people that didn’t even have the exact same name as someone who was ineligible to vote, but they also got [wiped]. And then you look at disproportionally who it hits – minorities. Yeah, it’s an absolute outrage. Some states make it much more difficult for people to vote. This is a democracy, and election day should probably be a national holiday. Things should be closed. Some countries even have fines for not voting. With early voting as well, there is no excuse not to do that. But yeah, voter suppression is a very real problem, and it’s something that people should be far more upset about that they are. It’s criminal, in my opinion.

What if I’m of the mindset that my vote doesn’t matter, that a state has always been red or blue?

We had a senate election a few years back that came down to a few hundred votes. All it would have taken is one person per district to change the whole outcome of a senate election. It absolutely does matter. Is it going to sway the presidency? Most likely not. The other thing is, we need to look at voting as our civic duty. This is part of what it takes to live in a democracy. My opinion is that it’s beyond just a right – it’s a duty and we should treat it as such. Whatever you do, don’t place your vote on any of the TV ads. That’s all nonsense.

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