By Danielle Chesney
Entirely East Lansing
EAST LANSING – People of every age, race and walk of life huddled together in the cold outside of Jack Breslin Student Event Center at Michigan State University on Wednesday. They had been queuing up since noon to see Bernie Sanders speak live there at 7 p.m.
Among them was Phillip Lamoureux, who paced up and down along the line, holding small pamphlets he created himself that detailed how a college student could obtain an absentee ballot before the Michigan presidential primary on March 8.
“I’m out here trying to make sure that people get to vote for whoever they are voting for,” said Lansing resident Lamoureux. “If there’s ever a vote where they say that every vote counts, this one counts more in a sense. There’s a reason; it’s called proportional voting. In a regular election it’s just winner-take-all. In this primary, it’s proportional. You’re getting a certain amount of delegates for everybody who votes. Every vote counts to the very end.”
While his main purpose at the rally was to spread awareness about absentee ballots, Lamoureux, a neuroscientist, also said his background in science heavily influenced his choice to vote for Sanders.
“My life has basically been research and grant funding,” said Lamoureux. “I don’t do anything with climate change, and yet I can’t get a grant just because the Republicans are against science getting money because their big donors who work with coal, gas and oil don’t want climate change to get more study.”
Lamoureux was not the only one encouraging young voters to make their way to the polls. In line since 2 p.m. were Chuck Mann, 69, and his wife, Nancy, from Hadley, Mich., who hope young people will educate themselves on the past in order to make their decisions for the future.
“The future is for the younger people, not me,”said Mann, an MSU alumnus. “I’ve already got what I’m going to have. The government fooled us forever and we went along for the ride, but when the bottom fell out, everyone should be able to see why. It’s all because of the corporate takeover of this country. I’m a veteran. I didn’t go to Vietnam and lose 57,000 men and women so we could have our underwear made there.”
Mann said he is voting for Sanders in hopes that he will lessen the load on the future generations, including Mann’s own children.
“Kids’ student debt is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that they should have to pay a nickel in this country where we pay a billion dollars for one airplane to go bomb other people’s kids,” said Mann. “We shouldn’t have to pay a nickel just to go to school.”
Standing in the cold since 3:30 p.m. with her two kids, Phoenix Usey, 8, and Eliza-Beth Riker, 3, was Maria Laurel Riker. A loyal Sanders supporter, she said she convinced her Republican mother and two of her five siblings to vote for him in hopes that it will counteract the support for Donald Trump.
“This is the first election that I’ve actually been terrified. I know many people that are supportive of Bernie that are older that will not vote for Hillary,” said Riker, 27. “If Hillary is the candidate, they will vote for Trump, and that is scary to me.”
With concern for her mother, her children and her own future, East Lansing resident Riker said she hopes that Sanders will be elected president and leave her and her fellow supporters in line with nothing to fear.
“It’s been scary. I think constantly about this election and everything that I’ve put forward with my time in support of Bernie, with thoughts not only of my kids, but also their kids and my neighbors to the left and right or me and ‘Jo Schmoe’ that lives five towns over. Everybody matters in this to me.”