Student voting made easy by ASNMU

Akasha Khalsa

Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU) has committed to carrying out a program intended to increase student voting in the coming November election, and to make NMU a voter friendly campus. They have entered NMU in a state-wide competition by an organization called the Campus Vote Project through the Secretary of State’s Office.

“The goal of the program is to help institutions develop plans to coordinate administrators, faculty and student organizations in civic and electoral engagement,” stated an NMU press release.

Although an official recognition for the program has not yet been received, ASNMU and faculty representative Dwight Brady have developed a plan to carry out on campus, with the goal of getting students prepared to cast their votes.

Students often find it inconvenient or extremely difficult to fit voting into their schedules, especially since many don’t live where they attend college. This means they have to absentee vote, which is a complex process. Students must register to vote, then send in a paper absentee ballot application. At this point they are sent an absentee ballot, which students fill out and mail. 

“You have to mail twice,” Chair of the ASNMU Assembly, Emma Drever said. “Buying a stamp is awkward. Who do you know that sends a letter anymore? It’s almost discouraging students to vote.”

In addition to these difficulties, election days happen on Tuesdays, and in many cases, Tuesdays can be full of classes. 

“How are you supposed to make the seven-hour journey home to vote, when you can’t miss that much class?” Dever said. “We’re trying to combat those issues.”

ASNMU assists by providing absentee ballot applications as well as postage and general guidance to reduce these obstacles. Drever said she even emails students follow-up reminders to make sure they know when to send their ballots in.

Booths by ASNMU representatives were available around campus in various locations to help students. They will be hosting another booth in the Lodge on Tuesday Feb. 18 from 4 to 7 p.m. Booths will continue to be held until the Michigan Primary deadline on Feb. 24, according to an NMU press release.

NMU entered in a competition through the Secretary of State Office comparing registration stats at 2 and 4-year institutions. These contests include highest voter turnout, most improved voter turnout and highest rate of voter registration.

Drever said that given NMU’s record of voter turnout, there is a good chance for NMU to earn one of these awards. During the off-year election in 2018, NMU hosted a mobile Secretary of State which managed to register almost 100 students. There was also a bus to and from the polls.

“That was in a year that gets zero media coverage, so we were really excited to see that initiative,” Drever said.

She said she hopes the same positive turn-out occurs for this election season.

“I mean, the Iowa caucus blew up in the media,” Drever said. “There’s media on the election already and it’s February, so we think that, with the conscious campus that we have, we think we have a really good chance.”

Absentee ballot applications can be downloaded from Michigan.gov/sos under elections and voter information.