COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) – Four million Minnesotans are eligible to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

But according to figures from the Minnesota Secretary of State, one in 10 state residents have failed to register. Events on Tuesday across the state were intended to change that.

“I had to re-register today because I moved three times due to college in the past year,” said Anoka-Ramsey Community College student Ocean Lamoureaux.

On 20 community college campuses across Minnesota, students like Rilee Kiefert are putting pen to paper. She’s one of 3,000 people who are newly-registered.

“It tells me that the people my age want to have a voice on what’s being said in Congress and in government, they want to be able to share what they’re saying,” Kiefert said.

Of the 5,000 voters registered so far in 2018, around two-thirds of them are under the age of 30. Many younger voters are especially motivated by the skyrocketing cost of higher education and the suffocating debt it causes.

“They feel politicians aren’t listening to them and this is an opportunity to have their voices heard to create change in issues they care about,” Michael Dean said.

But festive events alone, complete with free food, are just the start. Simply signing up won’t matter unless those who register actually show up on Election Day.

“Historically, the youngest generation of voters has always been at the lowest participation rate of voting. So if there’s more participation this year, that could change the outcome of the election,” Nick Harper with the League of Women Voters said.

That is a lesson in democracy best taught outside the classroom.

Bill Hudson