Township Trustee Courtney Wisinski said Meridian Township is working to ensure voter safety by adding in new changes to the voting location after the tragedies at Oxford High School on Nov. 30.
“Accessibility and safety are the most important factors in encouraging residents to vote. It is imperative that we provide information on options of voting, including the encouragement of early voting,” Wisinski said. “Additionally, ensuring that voters are aware and reminded of voter dates and timelines.
Our Meridian Township Clerk Deborah Guthrie is working to ensure that our voting locations are ADA compliant to improve accessibility. She is working to relocate all voting locations from Township schools as a result of the most recent and tragic Oxford shooting.”
Wisinski also said that while the Township can not promote any one candidate running for governor, the Township has an established voting pattern.
“Meridian Township has nearly 65% registered Democratic voters likely resulting in a large Governor Whitmer support,” Wisinski said. “As a registered Democrat and a current female elected official, I will continue to support Governor Whitmer as a candidate.”
Guthrie said of the 33,000 registered voters in Meridian Township, 18,800 people voted absentee, and 7,011 people voted at the polls for a total of 25,811 voters Guthrie said. More than 8,000 residents applied to be added to the permanent absentee voter list, increasing the absent voter list to 15,823 residents.
In 2018, 14,834 residents voted for Whitmer and 5,971 voted for Schuette in Meridian Township area, according to data Guthrie provided.
Gubernatorial race predictions
Looking ahead to the upcoming election, Matt Apostle, ASMSU’s vice president for governmental affairs, said Whitmer’s re-election is up in the air. But, he believes it could be a good election to entice young voters.
“It’s largely gonna depend on how engaging the race itself is in Michigan. I’ll be 22 when that election happens. And my very first election was electing Whitmer in 2018. So I remember that being a particularly engaging election for young people as it was just after it was the first national election after 2016, which invigorated a lot of young voters. For this one, I think it’s just gonna depend on what the next year is like.”
This upcoming election is going to be largely focused on getting people out and at the polls or drop boxes for absentee ballots.
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on for its third year, candidates might have to get creative when it comes to enticing voters.
Guthrie said candidates will have to be ready to make sure new voters are registered and understand how important their vote is.
“Candidates need to reach out to voters and encourage them to register early, check their voter registration information on the SOS site as early as possible so they know where to vote, when to vote and how to request an absentee ballot if they want one and have not done so already. Every vote counts and candidates should encourage voters to vote by absentee as early as possible once they receive their ballot or vote in person at the polls.”
The youth vote
Apostle said young voter turnout is especially important in the 2022 election. He said voters can have even more control at the state/local levels compared to the federal level.
“I think it’s an understanding of the issue and understanding how your vote counts. Not only at the federal/partisan level, but more at the state and local levels as well, where you can see more tangible changes on your streetscape, businesses down the corner, and all that sort of stuff.”
Robert Ford, the president of Landscape Architects Planners is unsure who he will be casting his ballot for in 2022.
“I generally vote Republican, but I do split my ticket. I’ve voted for a number of Democrats in the past. This time around I think I’m leaning a little bit with the Republican candidate, but I’m not decided.”
Ford also said supporting the lower-income class can be significant in candidates’ campaigning. He thinks it is critical to get people of all income levels out working.
“It’s important for candidates to look at the middle class and lower class and try to understand the tax structure and how work availability can impact their livelihood. That’s a very critical part of my evaluation process. I know that the middle class and the lower-income group really need to be supported, but I don’t necessarily think it should be through tax or handouts. I think it should be through incentive programs to provide work and instill in them the values of what work can do both from an integrity standpoint and also help them aspire.”
The pandemic and politics
Dana Buckhave, MSU political science major, said the next governor term will have to have a lot of focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be handled.
“In order to entice voters in my opinion, two topics need to be discussed: rebuilding after COVID and slowly returning to “normal,” Buckhave said. “Are masks always going to be a necessity?”
This raises some good questions for Okemos resident Madison Keegan who is also interested in how the next governor will handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I really think Whitmer has done a great job handling the pandemic so far. But obviously, we aren’t fully out of the pandemic at all,” Keegan said. “I would love to hear more about how these candidates believe they will be able to tackle/control the pandemic much more in this next term.”
Keegan also spoke about how she likes that there is an option for mail-in ballots making it easier to vote now.
“I like that I don’t have to stand in lines anymore and wait,” Keegan said. “All I have to do is fill out my ballot at home and go drop it off before the deadline. I think that is super easy and a good idea.”