The right to vote for Luther College students in the May 1st municipal electric utility referendum was controversial, with MEU opponents arguing the students should have no say in the matter because they aren't permanent Decorah residents.
Before the election, decorahnews.com posted a story (http://www.decorahnews.com/archived-stories/2018/04/19118.html) with information about just how many Luther College students are registered to vote in Decorah and whether they have voted in previous elections. We wrote, "decorahnews.com has obtained voter registration information for Ward 4 and Ward 5….1,433 voters--both city residents and college students--cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. Of that figure, 646 voters had a "700 College Drive" address. But that was in 2016, during a presidential election. The turnout during off-year elections and special elections is typically much lower. (In) last November's city election, between Ward 4 and Ward 5, 572 people voted. 33 of them were Luther College students."
decorahnews.com has studied voter information from Wards 4 & 5 from the May 1st referendum. 276 people voted in Ward 4. Seven Luther students cast absentee ballots and 76 voted on election day, meaning a total of 83 Luther students voted out of the 276 total, or 30 percent of turnout. In Ward 5, 475 people voted. Nine Luther students cast absentee ballots and 67 voted on election day, meaning 76 Luther students voted out of 475 total, or 16 percent of turnout.
A total of 159 Luther students voted in the May 1st election. Of course, in an election decided by five votes, every vote is important. However, Luther students cast 159 ballots out of a total of 2,765 ballots cast—just under under six percent of all votes cast.