Okemos Public Schools was closed due to Tuesday’s midterm election, but many Meridian Township parents still found themselves on school grounds. A total of 18 children came along with their parents as they cast their votes around noon at Murphy Elementary School. Stacy Liddick brought her children Nicholas and Allison. “We have to make decisions as people who want change,” 9-year-old Alison said. “They need to know that in order to see change, voices need to be heard,” said Liddick.
Holly Thompson is the Williamston city clerk and has been busy working on preparing Williamston for one day – the 2018 midterm election. A couple of large tasks that she does for elections which help ensure a fair and easy process for her community are ordering ballots and updating computers. For residents who order ballots overseas, they ship out the absentee ballots 45 days in advance. Thompson’s office also has bipartisan flyers for people looking to learn more about the candidates. “We’ve been extra busy with the absentee ballots because those have been really high and just emails and phone calls and everything,” Thompson said.
When Meridian Township voters opened their absentee ballot marking instructions, they were presented with directions on how to vote straight party even though straight ticket voting is banned for the Nov. 6 general election in Michigan. “I was contacted by a voter last week who was confused because the instructions that are included with the absentee ballot that was mailed to them included instructions on how to mark a straight party ballot,” said Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum. Although the instructions were incorrect, voters do not need to worry because the ballot is accurate. Meridian Township Clerk Brett Dreyfus said that there is no need for voter confusion because there is no straight party option on the ballot.
Once an American citizen turns 18, they gain the right to vote in elections. However, just because one has the right to vote does not mean they will exercise that right. Others are passionate about voting and believe that if the opportunity is available it should be taken advantage of. Howard Long is an East Lansing resident and an auditor in personal relations and healthcare. Long believes the attitude toward voting is always changing in our country.
“It’s either you stand for something or fall for nothing,” said Michigan State University freshman Sam Bryant on voting in the 2016 Presidential Election. Thousands of MSU students feel the same way, with record-high numbers of new student voters registering to vote in this year’s election.
A widening gap between young voters who have access to high-quality civic education and those who don’t is threatening young people’s ability to be active members in America’s democracy, experts say. In the 2012 election, 56 percent of youth who had any college experience voted compared to only 29 percent of youth with no college experience. Young people between 18 and 29 make up 40 percent of the youth population. The gap was similar in the 2008 election, when 62 percent of youth with any college experience voted, compared to only 36 percent of youth with no college experience. “Studies point to young people who are in wealthy districts are more likely to be exposed to the evidence-based, high-quality civic practices,” said Abby Kiesa, director of impact at The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Capital Area Transportation Authority, or CATA, will offer free rides on Election Day, Nov. 8. A bus pass will not be required. CATA Director of Marketing Laurie Robison wrote in an email that “a valid voter registration card is all that’s required for a free ride aboard CATA on Election Day.”
By RAY WILBUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — When Michigan voters cast ballots Nov. 8, they’ll be lining up at voting machines that may be 15 years old in some places. County clerks and election officials say they hope for updated equipment by 2017, or at least by the time voters decide on Michigan’s new governor in 2018. But they say voters this November could face machine crashes and long wait times caused by the aging equipment. Already Michigan ranks 46th in the nation for how much time the average voter will take to cast a ballot, according to a Massachussetts Institute of Technology study.