Century students learn about new voting legislation

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(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota’s Secretary of State Steve Simon is on his 87-county journey across Minnesota.

Sec. Simon is on a mission to remind high school students the importance of voting. Monday he was at Century High School in Rochester where he talked to a curious group of Panthers.

After hearing Sec. Simon, students got excited about the impact they could have on an election by simply showing up to vote.

New legislation in Minnesota allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote.

“It isn’t actual registration. You can’t do that, and you can’t do that until you’re 18, but you can get in line to do that,” said Sec. Simon.

Sec. Simon says it’s quite easy. Teens simply fill out a form online that only takes two to three minutes to complete. And once they turn 18, they will automatically be registered to vote.

This has future voters, like Senior Matthew Tollefson, excited. “What was brought up here today that was really interesting to me was if you don’t vote then you’re giving more power to people who have different opinions than you. So, if you do vote then you are kind of offsetting that vote,” said Tollefson.

“I want to express my own opinions and make sure it’s going the way I prefer,” said sophomore Keira Basballe.

Even though some of these students still won’t be able to vote by election day, Sec. Simon says they can still be at the polling locations as student election judges.

“I think just being able to be a part of the process and kinda see some of the behind the scenes would be interesting as well,” said Basballe.

“To share my opinion is the main reason why I want to vote and I’m sure that’s the same for everyone else,” said Tollefson.

Sec. Simon says Minnesota was third in youth voter turnout in the 2022 general election and the goal is to be number one.