Some MSU students were turned away from the polls today because of a Michigan law requiring the information on driver’s licenses to match voter registration cards.
Rogers’ Law was introduced in 1999 and was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, who was then a state representative.
Hospitality business senior Amy Howell went to the polls to vote today but was unable to. She said she voted in 2008 at the same location and was surprised to find she was not registered to vote.
“I was excited to voice my opinion,” Howell said. “It was disappointing, I wish I could’ve (voted).”
When she turned 21, Howell renewed her driver’s license but did not register to vote again. She said she wished she had been warned about this consequence when she renewed her license.
“I think it’s hard with college students because we’re always switching our addresses,” Howell said. “(But) I wish there was a little more warning.”
After checking her voter registration card today, journalism senior Kaleigh Robichaud realized she would be unable to vote. She said after she turned 21, she was not registered to vote in East Lansing.
Robichaud said she was registered to vote in her hometown, but she realized that it was too late to drive to a voting site there. Robichaud said when someone’s voting registration is changed, they should be notified.
“I do think they need to notify us,” Robichaud said. “That would have been nicer if they would have let me know that they changed that.”
Robichaud said legislation should work to make voting easier for college students because many of them are first-time voters.
“Personally I think they need to make it easier for students to vote because (for some students) it’s their first time,” Robichaud said.
When Residential College in the Arts and Humanities senior Amy Leichtman went to vote today, she faced a similar situation.
Leichtman said after looking for her name on the voter registration list, workers at the voting site told her she was not registered to vote in East Lansing.
“I think (current legislation) definitely hinders peoples’ ability to vote,” Leichtman said. “I feel like my right to vote was infringed upon.”
She said current legislation needs to be altered to require notification if someone’s voter registration is changed.
“I think that there needs to be a change in the law,” Leichtman said. “I think they need to make it so that you need to inform people when you change their voter registration.”
When the law was first introduced, it led to a statewide decrease in voter turnout, said Nathan Triplett, an East Lansing City Council member. Triplett said it was a problem at MSU.
“There were widespread (drops in voter turnout) on Michigan State as a result of confusion,” Triplett said.
Triplett said students such as Howell can make simple mistakes that ultimately prevent them from voting.
“It’s not as though they made a conscious choice not (to vote),” Triplett said. “They got caught up in negative implication of this law without making a conscious choice.”
Leichtman said students are not to blame for the confusion.
“I don’t think it’s really students’ fault,” Leichtman said. “I think it’s the way the law is written.”
Since 2000, there have been numerous attempts to change the law, Triplett said. Although attempts to alter the legislation have been unsuccessful, Triplett said educating college voters could help counter the drop in voter turnout because of the law.
However, because hundreds of new students attend MSU each year, the process of educating students about the law has been difficult.
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“The problem is, you have a new population of students coming through to MSU who have to be re-educated,” Triplett said. “Each year you have to go back through the same education process with new students who won’t have the benefit of what we’ve done the years before.”
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