East Lansing again sees low student voter turnout for city council election
Why this matters
Since having 139 students cast their vote in the 2011 East Lansing City Council election, the city has seen a dramatic decrease down to 25 student voters in 2013 and 33 student voters in 2015.
The goal that was set for the number of MSU students who cast a vote Tuesday by East Lansing’s City Clerk, Marie Wicks, was 25. Yesterday that number was beaten, but just barely.
25 was the number of students who came out to vote in the last City Council election in 2013. In 2011, 139 students came out to vote. Yesterday MSU’s student voter turnout for East Lansing’s City Council election was once again almost nonexistent. Only 33 of 2,600 students who are registered to vote in East Lansing came out to vote at one of the five precinct locations on MSU’s campus.
Precinct 14, located at IM Sports-East, had none of their 311 registered voters show up to vote yesterday. Also located at IM Sports-East was Precinct 13, and accounting junior Scott Haeck was their first voter — he showed up around 10 a.m.
“I think it’s important that we come and participate in the process, because who is making the decisions in the local community does affect us as students,” he said. “What’s the point of having an election and having the right to vote if we don’t exercise it?”
Later on Tuesday, at around 5 p.m., Precinct 12 in the Lake Huron room in the Union had seen seven voters show up.
Cathy Scott, chair of Precinct 12, expected that at the rate they had students showing up to vote, they would hopefully get maybe one more voter before they shut down at 8 p.m. No one else ended up coming in. Scott said how important it was for MSU students to come out and vote in these non presidential elections.
“The time students will spend here will be affected by who’s in charge,” she said.
Some students on campus didn’t even know that elections were held yesterday. Journalism junior Jason Ruff said he didn’t know the election was happening until this week. Other students said that they didn’t think the elections affected them because they’re just students. Others didn’t even know what was being voted on.
English senior Chris Symons said he wanted to vote but didn’t know he had to be registered in East Lansing.
With the lack of MSU students coming out to vote or knowing that elections were being held yesterday, some students have suggested some ideas that can be done to increase student voter turnout in future elections.
Together Symons and Ruff suggested, for future elections, information on how to register to vote in East Lansing and what they’d be voting on should be put on table tents in the dining halls across campus, like the ones the University Activities Board, or UAB, puts up every week.
“It’s really not as clear to be involved and informed as to what’s going on,” Symons said. “It’s not like there are table tents that say, ‘here’s what’s politically happening right now.’”