Guess which Minnesota community turns out 90 percent of its citizens to vote in elections? No, it’s not the Twin Cities, despite its well-known civic activism, but the Red Lake Nation up in the Iron Range.
Last week at the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy’s “Food + Justice = Democracy” conference, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie highlighted the importance of voting as an expression of patriotism and love of one’s home and community.
Ritchie recalled a story told to him by a native of Red Lake on why voter turnout there is so high — compared to the Twin Cities, which boasts the lowest turnout per capita in the state.
“When I drive into Red Lake, I drive past the giant VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Hall,” she told Ritchie. “Inside that hall is a long list of all the braves who have given their lives for this country.”
“We love this place, we are very patriotic, and we vote,” she continued, while pointing to the ground. The whole room nodded in unison, Ritchie remembered.
“That’s really what’s fundamental in our values,” summarized the Secretary of State. “We love this place where we live, we love our family, our friends, our community that’s around us. And when you love a place, then you take care of that place. Part of that is voting, and being part of that process.”