GLIAC athletes take off Election Day, gives Wildcats chance to vote

GETTING+OUT+TO+VOTE%E2%80%94NMU+athletics+took+the+initiative+to+vote+on+Election+Day%2C+and+contributed+to+the+most+American+votes+in+election+history.+Photo+courtesy+of+NMU+Athletics.

GETTING OUT TO VOTE—NMU athletics took the initiative to vote on Election Day, and contributed to the most American votes in election history. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Travis Nelson

Through a mandate of sorts from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, all NMU athletic teams that compete in the conference were given Election Day off of all activities. 

The GLIAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee led the request to pause athletic activities to encourage student-athletes and staff members to exercise their right to vote, the GLIAC website said. All student-athletes throughout the GLIAC were off from athletically related activities on Election Day, NMU Athletic Director Forrest Karr said, but he wasn’t sure of the exact final turnout of student-athletes who went out to vote, he added.

However, Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Lindsey LeMay knows a bit more of her team’s voter turnout, noting that every player on the team registered to vote, and at least 50% voted based on who she talked to, she said. The team doesn’t have many athletes registered in Marquette County, but rather their home towns out-of-state, so voting was mostly done by absentee, LeMey said. 

In her past experiences when she was attending the University of Oregon, LeMay had Election Day off as well, and some classes were even canceled, she said. A difference between Oregon and Michigan is in Oregon, the entire state votes by mail-in, LeMay said, where Michigan has in-person as an option. Even without the mandate from the GLIAC, Election Day decisions previously had been made by LeMay.

“It was something that I was planning on doing anyways and I’m glad that the conference decided to do a mandate from that level, and that’s made it easier on our level and from the university,” LeMay said. 

The recent issues in the past few months have caused a spark for voter turnout, translating to discussions by the GLIAC SAAC that ultimately led to the decision to halt all athletic activities. For a younger generation of voters, they wanted to make sure their voices were heard.

“A lot of them are very energized about different topics, especially right now, and they really are expressing their voices,” LeMay said. “You can tell through social media the way that they carry themselves that they would take advantage of this opportunity to use their rights as an American to vote and I think they were excited about it.”

NMU has always encouraged civic engagement and it has been heartening to see so many student-athletes participate in important discussions over the last six months, Karr said. Voting turnout has been increasing more and more each election, and the Wildcat athletes made sure that this trend continued.