Registering to vote is only half the challenge

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By Kelsey Clements
The Williamston Post

Mark your calendars, March 8 is the primary election day. Feb. 8 is the last day to register to vote in this election.

On Michigan State University’s campus, voting isn’t the main focus for students. With homework, exams, and stress about future careers, voting in the primary election doesn’t always get a lot of attention. On top of this, numerous students aren’t informed about the candidates or even the sole fact that there is an upcoming election.

In East Lansing’s City Council election on Nov. 3, 2015, voter turnout was almost nonexistent according to Marie Wicks, East Lansing’s City Clerk. Only 33 of the 2,600 registered voters actually showed up to vote in the election. This was slightly higher than the 25 students who voted in the last City Council election in 2013. She said this could be the result of numerous things including the lack of knowledge, not being registered to vote, or simply not caring.

MSU business sophomore Alec Yanosy said that these statistics didn’t surprise him. He said the primary elections are not advertised well around campus and many students don’t even know we have a presidential primary election coming up in March.

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MSU business sophomore Alec Yanosy said he will not be voting in the 2016 primary election.

“I don’t think it’s worth going through all the trouble because it’s only the primary election. People still have the chance to vote in the presidential election,” said Yanosy.

Yanosy said he will not be participating in the primary election due to the fact that he will be on spring break. When asked about filling out an absentee ballot, he said it required too much work for something that he doesn’t think is very important.

Wicks said it concerns her that many students will be either on vacation or away from campus for the break and will not participate in the primary election. She hopes students will fill out absentee ballots if they will be out of town, since it is “quick and easy.”

“The most important thing to remember is that the voter registration deadline is Feb. 8, so students really need to get in and get it done,” said Wicks. “We are working hard to get students to register, but that is only half the challenge. Getting them to actually vote is the other half.”

Wicks said there are more challenges to getting the word out about voting. She said dorms are secure, so it’s not possible to go door to door informing students or campaigning for the election. However, there are numerous programs on campus working hard to inform students. One of these is called YouVote. This program informs students of upcoming elections, where to vote, how to register, and everything they might need to know about voting. Click here for more information.
In addition, the City of East Lansing has 17 precinct locations. A listing of all the polling locations on and around campus can be found by clicking here.

Renee Zientek, director for the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at Michigan State University, said she believes a main reason for low voter turnout among students is due to the fact that voting absentee may be challenging for first time voters.

“Many students are first time voters who are registered in their hometowns and are not likely able to go home to vote,” said Zientek. “This will likely result in lower than hoped turn out for the primary elections.”

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