By Max Benoit
Entirely East Lansing
The Michigan presidential primary is March 8, but so is Michigan State University’s spring break.
Spring break for MSU runs from March 7 to the 11 with the presidential primary falling in the middle. Whether the timing of spring break will significantly impact the presidential primary remains to be seen, but Christian Gray, a 22-year-old senior majoring in political theory believes that the conflicting events will have a negative effect on voting.
“A lot of students are going home or going on vacation,” said Gray, who is currently leaning toward Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. “That’s kind of where their focus is rather than, you know, playing a part as a voter. There would probably be a higher voter turnout if the elections were another day.”
Historically, voter turnout among millennials (ages 18 to 24) for elections has been low. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average voter turnout for millennials during presidential elections has hovered around 40 percent since 2000, with the number being even lower for presidential primaries. Peaking at 44.3 percent in the 2008 election. That is the lowest average out of all the recorded age groups by about 10 percent. Having the primary the same week as spring break will not benefit that turnout.
After being a volunteer to try and get people to vote last year during the elections, 19-year-old MSU world politics major Elias Kokaly thinks the process to vote is just not worth the time.
“They have to go through and try to apply so that they can vote, and that takes a while.” Kokaly said. “Also most kids don’t think that their votes would count anyways.”
East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks wants to inform students of how easy it is to register to vote. Her primary job involves overseeing and running elections. She said that it is really simple to obtain an absentee ballot from East Lansing City Hall if you plan on being somewhere else for spring break.
“If you want to get an absentee ballot, all you have to do is come in and see me and fill out a little form,” Wicks said. “When students come in to register, they think that there’s this big packet to fill out or (you have to) give blood. It’s a simple little form. You check a couple of boxes, give your address, show your ID, sign your name and you are out the door. It’s a piece of cake.”
Wicks said she has reason to be optimistic that student voter turnout will not be affected by spring break.
“We have a very active You Vote group (at MSU),” Wicks said. “They’ve come up with things like dressing up a puppy as your favorite candidate and taking a picture with it. That’s stuff I would love to do! The improved (voter) turnout in 2014 was due to their effort.”
Zaza Saad, a 19-year-old from Dearborn who is majoring in international relations at MSU, thinks that even though there is an absentee ballot made available by the city, students probably still will not use it.
“A lot of kids, if they aren’t doing anything, they aren’t going to leave their house to go vote,” Saad said. “It doesn’t matter where they are, it matters if they actually want to vote.”
The excitement of being eligible to vote in his first election will bring 18-year-old accounting major Theodore Krause out to the polls. Although he can not say that the excitement is there for his fellow college classmates.
“I know it won’t really affect me because I plan on voting,” said Krause with a big smile. “But I think that spring break to a good amount of college students is more important than voting. Which is really stupid. I think that a lot of people just don’t care enough.”
Mariah Koolthong, an 18-year-old MSU zoology major, thinks that people today, especially college students, are a little lazy due to the quickness of modern technology.
“I know there’s a lot of stuff that goes into (voting) but also I think you should care enough about it,” Koolthong said. “ I don’t think it’s anything extremely difficult that people can’t accomplish. A lot of people don’t want to be bothered with it because everyone nowadays is so used to like click on their phone and they can do something right away.”
Saad said that voting does not completely depend on the date or hassles of registering. It instead relies on the desire of the voter.
“I just think that if you have a strong belief in a candidate, that you would do whatever it takes to go vote,” Saad said. “Even if you don’t think your vote will count towards anything.”
The deadline for voter registration in the presidential primary is February 8. You can find more information on how to register here.