East Lansing provides voting registration resources to students

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Election graphic

Info-graphic by Camille Douglas. Information provided by East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks.

By Camille Douglas

Entirely East Lansing

The Michigan presidential primary election will be held March 8 and interested Michigan State University students like psychology sophomore Kate Den Houter are eager to become registered voters.

For the vast majority of registered MSU students, including Den Houter, this year will be the first time they will be voting in a presidential election. It will also be a first time participating in an election for many.

The deadline to register for the primary election is Feb. 8. As the date approaches, Den Houter is finding herself confused on how she can register to vote.

“I’m not sure what to do at all,” said Den Houter. “Should I register back home or in East Lansing? How long will it take me to register? I don’t think I will have the time to go home or to go to City Hall here in East Lansing.”

Den Houter is not alone in her confusion. Many unregistered individuals are asking the same questions and are having a difficult time finding out how they can register to vote.

As an incentive to easily engage MSU students in voting, the Governmental Affairs Department of the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) partnered with TurboVote, an online voter registration website that allows for easy sign-up and absentee ballot requests.

To promote the usage of TurboVote, ASMSU visited on-campus halls in October before the East Lansing City Council elections took place in November and distributed pre-filled forms to students interested in registering to vote. Advertising junior Savannah Benavides was one of the students who registered through TurboVote.

“I never realized how easy it could be to register to vote or to even request an absentee ballot through TurboVote,” Benavides said. “I think that if ASMSU had not come around to my dorm, I don’t think I would be registered to vote now.”

Registering online through TurboVote is one of the ways a student can register. East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks is responsible for managing municipal elections and registers students at the East Lansing City Hall.

“If a student registers in East Lansing, they will be given a sticker with their current address in East Lansing to provide when filling out the ballot,” Wicks said. “If that address changes such as when they go home, they can easily change that address online or go to their city hall in their area by filling out a Change of Address form. Students do not need to worry about waiting to register back at home.”

A final way to register is by sending the state of Michigan voter registration application through the mail. 

If registered by mail or online, it is important to note for an individual that they must vote in-person and provide a photo identification to their first election. To acquire an absentee
ballot for their first election, individuals must visit a city hall or Secretary of State office, again with a photo I.D.

With the primary election being held on March 8 during the week of spring break, Wicks is encouraging all students who register to request for an absentee ballot.

“Even if you were going to be in town and don’t think you will have time to wait in line, go ahead and vote absentee,” Wicks said. “You can, by law, walk in with an absentee ballot on election day having said that you were going to be out of town. Having said that you would be out of town that day might make you feel precluded into coming in. For all intents and purposes, we don’t police it and will accept your ballot.”

Whether they are registered to vote or in the process of registering, Wicks encourages all students to engage in elections.

“It’s a great way to get involved with your community. I think it’s one of the highest form of citizenship,” Wicks said. “Maybe one vote doesn’t necessarily count, but when you have everyone come out, then you will see a difference. The earlier you start voting, the better habits you will have in the future.”

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