Minnesota Immigrant Community Sees Advance in Voting Power
League of Women Voters MN’s Judy Stuthman to Receive Award for Registering Over 62,000 New Voters at Citizenship Ceremonies
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Oct. 15, 2014) — In Minnesota, 45.9 percent of foreign-born immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote—and a number of new citizens who register to vote increases, so does the strength of our democracy. This is partially due to Judy Stuthman, who has worked with the League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWV Minnesota) for over 40 years. Ms. Stuthman has devoted much of her efforts to registering new United States citizens to vote, and during the period of 2007-2014, she led LWV Minnesota in an effort to attend every citizenship ceremony held in Minnesota where they were able to register over 62,000 New Americans.
On Wednesday, Ms. Stuthman was recognized for her outstanding accomplishments when received the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award, presented by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Ms. Stuthman remarked,“I’ve seen the enthusiastic response of the new citizens when they sign that sheet of paper that will register them to vote. Many of them come from countries where they don’t have the opportunity to vote – but now they have a feeling of empowerment – now they have a voice in choosing the leaders who will represent their communities and in manifesting the vision they have for the prosperity of their children.”
Ms. Stuthman has dedicated her life to being an advocate for the progress and well-being of the immigrant communities of Minnesota. As a representative of LWV Minnesota, she and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) have worked closely in an immigration reform coalition over the past 10 years. During ILCM’s Citizenship Day ceremonies held every summer in Saint Paul, Ms. Stuthman and other LWV Minnesota members register the new citizens to vote. One of these new voters, Celine, is a former client of ILCM who came from Ethiopia in 2008. ILCM assisted her in achieving her US citizenship earlier this year. She is now a full-time student, studying computer technology and excited about getting her first full-time job. Thinking back to her naturalization ceremony in Brooklyn Park this past July, she remembers how excited she was when a member of the League of Women Voters asked her if she wanted to register to vote. “I didn’t think twice about it. Of course I want to vote—it’s a way that I can have a voice. I was only able to vote one time in my whole life in Ethiopia, but here, it’s just different. Participating is important because elections matter and you can make a difference in your community.”
Judy Stuthman has been a member of the League of Women Voters for over 40 years, serving on the board of the Roseville, Maplewood and Falcon Heights League and also the LWVMN State Board. She is a past LWV Minnesota State Co-President and volunteer lobbyist. In 1997, she started coordinating the effort of LWV Minnesota volunteers to register new citizens to vote at their naturalization ceremonies. The number of registered voters who are New Americans, Asians, or Latinos have been growing quickly over the last decade and will have an important impact in future elections.
Susan Sheridan Tucker
League of Women Voters Minnesota
550 Rice Street
Saint Paul, MN 55103