Absentee voting deadline nears

Trinity Carey

As the general election approaches, many students are under the impression that they won’t be  able to vote if they currently don’t reside within their local precinct or if they aren’t currently registered in Marquette.

The voting process can be complicated for students who have left their hometown or even their state, but an absentee ballot makes the process possible. Absentee voting allows those not currently residing in their voting district to complete and mail in their ballot instead of attending the polls on election day.

“It’s important for our young voters to understand that there are other ways you can vote besides going to the polls and that it’s also important to get a head start on the absentee ballot process,” said Marquette County Clerk Linda Talsma.

For students who will not be able to vote at their registered precinct, they are eligible for an absentee ballot form and should follow the process as follows: download the absentee ballot application from www.michigan.gov, make sure all categories are filled in and mail the completed form to their local county clerk’s office by Nov. 5 for approval.

Once approved, students will receive an official ballot. They should make their selection, and mail the completed ballot back to their local county clerk. All ballots are due no later than 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Talsma said county clerks check their mail often and right up until 8 p.m. on election day.

“So your vote does, in fact, count,” she said

“For those students who haven’t registered to vote, there’s still time. The last day to register is Tuesday, Oct. 11,” Talsma added.

To register, students should download the Michigan Voter Registration Application, complete the form and mail it to their township or county clerk, if they plan to attend the polls of that county.They are also able to register in person at their local Secretary of State branch office, county, city, or township clerk’s office as well as military recruitment centers. If voters register in person, the actual ballot can be mailed in to the registered county.

Those unsure if they are registered to vote, should visit vote.michigan.gov and click on “Verify your voter registration.”

Talsma had further advice for young voters, saying they should get a head start on the voting process and should become an educated voter. Information can be found on vote.michigan.gov including a sample ballot, which includes links to candidates’ websites.

Only 40 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in the 2012 general election, according to the Pew Research Center. In that election, 64 percent of Marquette county voters participated. Talsma hopes to see this number reach 70 percent this election. She said Marquette usually receives a fair voter turnout and attributed this largely to students and to those encouraging students to attend the polls.

“[Student political groups] are little go-getters. They have good political committees and that’s what we need,” Talsma said.

These student groups strive to register students to vote and make them more aware of the voting process, said Connor Raak, president of NMU’s College Democrats and political science major.

“I think this election, because it’s presidential, we will see a larger voter turnout, especially with college students and with the two candidates we have to choose from—Donald Trump being the main fear factor to vote,” Raak said.

Raak believes that not many people listen to students as a whole but by voting, students show they are a “force to be reckoned with.”

Mason Pearce president of the NMU College Republicans, agreed on the importance for students to make their opinion known.

“All students need to get out there and exercise their democratic right to vote, whether that be Republican, Democrat or another party,” he said.

By voting, especially in local elections, student voters can see the difference they are making and policies being put to work in their daily lives, Pearce said.

“Vote so that your opinions can be represented by the government as a whole,” he said.