Saturday, September 26, 2020

Preparing for the primaries: How students get out the vote

Absentee ballots and more

February 14, 2020
<p>Sparty attended the Absentea Party hosted on Feb. 11, 2020 in the Erickson Kiva, in which he danced with fellow students and faculty. </p>

Sparty attended the Absentea Party hosted on Feb. 11, 2020 in the Erickson Kiva, in which he danced with fellow students and faculty.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

The Michigan primary is less than a month away – MSU students are ramping up efforts to get out the vote for the March 10 election.

Maysa Sitar, vice president for governmental affairs for ASMSU, discussed the initiatives that the organization takes to get students voting. 

“We do a lot of voter registration. We do voter registration at freshman orientation, we do voter registration by going to the dorms and knocking on doors. We always do a voting guide for every election so that students can be as informed as possible,” she said. 

Sitar said ASMSU is working on getting classes off the day of election because students have class on Election Day, it may be difficult for them to adjust their school or work schedules to stand in polling lines.

Sitar said one thing to keep in mind is while same-day voter registration is available in Michigan. If you register anywhere from 15 days before to the day of the election, you need to go to the city clerk’s office.

Additionally, voters can only vote for one party in a presidential primary. 

“Voting is one of the greatest and easiest tools we have to telling public officials what we want,” said Sitar. 

MSUvote is another organization made up of faculty, staff, students and community partners that has prioritized student voting for about 20 years.

This past Tuesday they held an event in the Erickson Kiva called Absentea Party.

Here they had Sparty come visit, they had pizza, T-shirts, tea, music, a live stream of the New Hampshire Primary and more. The main goal of this event was to have people get registered to vote and complete an absentee ballot application. 

"We have three things that we need to do – we need to help people register to vote, we want to help educate people on candidates and issues, and then finally, obviously show up day of,” said Suchitra Webster, co-chair of MSUvote.

Students also gave their own opinions as to why they chose to vote absentee this election season.

Jasper Martus, international relations sophomore and president of the JMC Kennedy Democrats said he chose to vote absentee because of the convenience, the time, and the opportunity to really think about his decision. 

“Right now, it's a very fluid race. There's a lot of great candidates and the trajectory is going to be changing as we get later and later into the process. So, I want to be able to have the opportunity to really think about who I'm going to vote for and have that space to come to a decision in whatever way I choose,” he said.

“My main reason for voting absentee is because I'm more familiar with local issues that are happening in my hometown area,” said gender and international studies sophomore Scout Greimel. 

How to vote

Michigan offers voter registration online for people with a state of Michigan ID or driver's license.

“In addition to that you can register to vote with your city or township clerk, your county clerk and the clerk at the secretary of state’s office,” City Clerk Jennifer Shuster said.

You can check registration and see a sample ballot at michigan.gov/vote or vote411.org.

For more information, The State News published a voter guide for the East Lansing City Council elections in October as well as where to vote.

Absentee ballots and voting for out of state students

Out of state students have the choice to register in Michigan or in their home state, Shuster said.

“If they want to vote absentee at their home address and get that ballot sent to them here at campus, they have that opportunity. We just want to make sure we’re educating student voters as well.”

Proposal 3, passed in 2018, allows any voter to vote absentee without needing a government approved reason.

“Now anyone can vote absentee, so I think a lot of people are paying more attention to that now and the convenience that it offers to voters to be able to have that ballot mailed to them, maybe take their time with the ballot (and) vote from the comfort of their own home," Shuster said.

The ballot will be counted if it returns to the clerk before 8 p.m. on Election Day, Shuster said.

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