Some students returning to the University of Minnesota later this month will spend the first day of class looking for both classrooms and voting booths.
The Jan. 21 start of the spring semester at the Twin Cities campus coincides with a special primary election to fill the northeast Minneapolis state House district left open by the death of DFL Rep. Diane Loeffler.
The timing isn’t a coincidence. Gov. Tim Walz has said the date was selected “to accommodate the large student population in the district.”
A Secretary of State spokesman said the office was not aware of another time when student voters were cited in scheduling an election. The seat must be filled before the Legislature returns Feb. 11.
The Minneapolis race has attracted a diverse field. Eleven candidates are running for the DFL nomination. With no Republicans in the race, the victor will face a Legal Marijuana Now candidate on Feb. 4.
The district doesn’t include the campus itself. But it does cover nearby neighborhoods popular among students.
The College Democrats at the University of Minnesota celebrated the timing, saying the U’s “record-breaking 2018 voter turnout rates show that when students are accommodated, they will show up.
“It is only fair that students are allowed to have a voice in who makes decisions that affect them,” the group said.