First Time Voters: Look Here

This photo was provided by sos.wa.gov.

By: Sarah Williams

Australia Smith went to the Secretary of State after turning 18. She intended to get her State ID, but she was also given donor forms and an application for voting registration. She said the application had basic questions and she filled it out quickly. She was registered to vote after 10 minutes. She had to wait hours for her ID.

Smith is now 21 and a junior at Spring Arbor University. She plans on voting next Election Day, November 3, 2020.

What are the deadlines?

According to Michigan Voter Information Center, the deadlines are:

  • Register to vote
    • Person: November 3
    • Online/Mail: October 19
  • Request for Absentee Ballot
    • Online/Mail/Person: 5pm Friday, October 30
  • Send in Absentee Ballot
    • Online/Mail/Person: 5pm Friday, October 30

How do you register to vote?

SAU sophomore student Makiya Owens registered to vote last summer. She said she registered online and plans on voting.

Michigan.gov stated to register to vote a person needed to be:

•           A resident of Michigan

•           A resident of the city or township for 30 days when they vote

•           A United States citizen

•           At least 18 years old

•           Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison

People can register in person, online, or mail.

If applying by online or mail, voters need to complete the application. Then, mail it to their city or township clerk, which can be found on MVICs page.

Registering by mail requires entering their driver’s license number on the form or sending in a photocopy of their driver’s license, personal ID, or paycheck stub, utility bill, bank document or government document with both your name and address.

If applying in person, voters would need documents to prove where they live.

Where do you go to vote?

People can vote at the polls or with Absentee ballots. After registering on MVIC, a page will show the voter’s poll and clerk location. Those already registered can locate their poll location again on the MVIC’s page.

What will be on the ballot?

People can see sample ballots on the MVIC’s page. MVIC stated the ballot is made up of many sections and proposals and they vary depending on place of register. A sample ballot from a precinct in Jackson County has a partisan section which has the presidential options. There is the congressional section with the senator options. There are also sections for legislative, state board, regent of the university of Michigan, trustee of Michigan state university, governor of Wayne state university, county, sheriff, and more.

There are also two proposals. The proposals state their purpose, what the constitutional amendment would do, and asks, “Should this proposal be adopted?”.

How do you register for an absentee ballot?

Smith said she plans on voting by Absentee ballot but has yet to register.

SAU student junior Ryan Northup registered to vote in Ohio. He plans on voting by Absentee Ballot by mailing out the ballot before the election.

Voters who can’t make it to the polls can vote by mail through Absentee ballots.

MVIC stated all registered Michigan voters can use an absentee ballot before Election Day. They don’t need an excuse or reason. They can apply online, mail, or in person.

The completed ballot must be received by the city or township clerk before 8 pm on Election Day. It is advised to mail in Absentee ballots as soon as possible.

All registered voters can track their ballots on MVIC’s page.

How many college students vote?

National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) did a report on college and student voting in 2017. NSLVE created a database of 9,511,711 and 9,784,931 students enrolled at the time of the 2012 and 2016 election. These students attended higher education institutions across the U.S. They used this database to yield data on students’ turnout. The results resemble the approximately 20 million college students in U.S.

NSLVE’s students voted about three percent more at 2016 than 2012. In 2012, 45.1% of the nearly 10 million students voted. In 2016, 48.3% voted. This means half of the college students population voted.

Campus Vote Project stated the new generation has a lower voting rate because they move frequently, are less likely to have a driver’s license, are less likely to be contacted directly by political campaigns then older age groups, missed a deadline, or lacking other information.

In a poll done at SAU, out of 40 participating students, 37 are registered to vote. There are 39 students planning on voting and 28 students planning on voting with Absentee ballot.

Why should college students vote?

“I want to take responsibility for America,” said Owens.

“I think it is a really important election for a lot of reasons,” Northup said, “so I wanted to be able to put my vote in because I think it will really matter,”.

“We are in a climate right now where a lot of things are happening” Smith said, “so if you want change to progress you have to go and vote”.