NMU students can be involved in the community in many ways such as attending community events, shopping at local businesses and, perhaps most importantly, voting in elections. With the presidential election just four weeks away, some students are raising awareness about the importance of voting and being active members of the community.
On Wednesday, Sept. 30, the Student Leader Fellowship Program held a civic engagement Skill Builder to inform students about why and how they should register to vote. President of ASNMU Emma Drever hosted the event. Marquette City Clerk Kyle Whitney gave a presentation about voter registration and answered questions from the audience. He encouraged students to vote in federal, state and local elections.
“There is a really good case to be made for getting involved locally as well because the Marquette City Commission or your state-level elected representatives have often a much more direct line to your daily life than the president or senators,” Whitney said.
Due to COVID-19, it is now easier to register to vote and request an absentee ballot in Michigan. However, that does not mean students should wait to register.
“If you’re requesting an absentee ballot figuring out the timeline for that, I think the earlier you do that stuff the better,” Whitney said.
Voters in the State of Michigan can request an absentee ballot at https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/. According to the Secretary of State’s website, all absentee ballot requests must be received by 5 p.m. on the Friday before an election. The deadline for submitting absentee ballots is 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Drever said students should vote at every level because doing so provides multiple opportunities to shape the government and community.
“In Michigan, anyways, the presidential race is one of 26 races on the ballot,” Drever said. “So even if you don’t like that one, there are 25 other chances for your vote to be heard, your voice to be heard, your passions to be defended and you have to show up for those other 25.”
Junior pre-law and social work major Margaret Compton said some people aren’t aware of the influence they can have to change their community.
“You have to understand that you have a say and you have to understand how to get your word out there to be able to make a change,” Compton said.
Compton helps lead Kids For Change, a civics group for fifth graders at Cherry Creek Elementary School in Marquette. Although group meetings are postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kids For Change encourages students to participate in their community by providing them with the necessary tools to make the changes they want to see. Compton said what children learn in Kids For Change are also valuable lessons for adults.
“I think that it’s really important to teach civics at a young age so that they have those skills when they grow up,” Compton said. “Our government was ideally set up as a democratic republic to hear the voices of the citizens, but if the citizens don’t know how to show their voice then it’s kind of moot.”
Information about any upcoming events can be found at https://thehub.nmu.edu/events. For more information about voting in Michigan, go to https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1633-49313–,00.html.