MSU works to get students voting
Volunteer Sharon Krinock helps East Lansing resident Kathy Bouchard-Wyant finish voting at the Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road, on Aug. 7, 2012. “I think it’s everyone’s duty to come out and vote,” Bouchard-Wyant said. “Everyone has a voice.” Julia Nagy/The State News
Although the East Lansing city clerk’s office saw more absentee ballots this year than in years past, that number still was low; therefore, MSU is working to raise voter awareness.
Many MSU students think they have to take a special trip to vote in the precinct in their hometown come election time, but that isn’t always the case.
“We do not get a lot of absentee ballots from students, but we did get a few from student precincts (in yesterday’s primary election), and that never happens,” East Lansing City Clerk Marie McKenna said. “Students are so transient through most of their years … they’re in a dorm, then they probably sublet, then move to another dorm … They move every year, so it’s hard to convey that when you move, your precinct changes.”
MSU tries to ease this confusion students experience about voting with YouVote, a nonpartisan initiative to help provide students with the information they need to know exactly where they should go to vote, and make the process as simple as possible, co-chair of the initiative Cathy Neuman said.
“We’ve had YouVote since 1999, and it’s a committee that combines faculty, staff and students who have three purposes: one, to get people registered; two, to get people information on proposals and candidates; and lastly, to get people out to vote,” Neuman said.
Neuman said awareness and education are YouVote’s primary goals for students.
“Trying to get students educated is very, very important,” she said. “We never want them to be disinterested because they couldn’t get to vote when they wanted to, after they got excited about voting.”
Currently, YouVote is working on a number of ways to make it easy for students to vote once they arrive in East Lansing.
“We’re working with the Residence Halls Association to have one (resident mentor) for each residence hall who is responsible to get trained to register people to vote,” Neuman said. “Our main focus is students, to get them able to vote. It’s a good thing for people to do, especially freshmen who are here for their first year in residence halls, to let them know where they need to go to vote.”
For communication junior Mitch Swan, registering to vote in East Lansing was the easiest way for him to cast his ballot.
“Since I live here, it’s easier … I don’t go home much,” Swan said. “It’s important to have your voice heard, even if it’s just one vote.”
Since this year is a national election year, Neuman and the others on the YouVote committee expect more voter registration.
“It’s always a bigger year when there’s a presidential election — more people want to be registered, more people want to vote,” Neuman said. “We just want people to vote … make their own decisions and be critical thinkers.”