Registration events begin as U-M seeks to win Big Ten Voting Challenge

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 2:38pm

Students were hoping to get their peers to turn up Tuesday on the Diag  — turn up to vote, that is.

The Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning, in conjunction with Turn Up Turnout, a student group that aims to increase voter turnout among young adults, put on Register to Vote in the Diag. The event allowed students to quickly register to vote and acquire necessary information about voting in the 2018 midterm elections.

The event, held on National Voter Registration Day, was the University of Michigan’s first major on-campus, in-person opportunity for students to participate in the Big Ten Voting Challenge, announced by University President Mark Schlissel in early September. For those students who were unable to attend the event in the Diag, event administrators are encouraging registering to vote online.

According to a statement from President Schlissel, 19 percent of students at universities throughout the country voted in 2014, while the Ginsberg Center reports 14 percent of University of Michigan students voted that same year.

LSA freshman Archan Patel participated in the registration opportunity on the Diag, hoping to increase the number of undergraduate students voting in elections. 

“I heard about what the voting turnout was for undergraduates last year, and I wanted to raise the turnout for this year,” Patel said. “One way to do it is just go out and sign up for it.”

While more than 40 students marked themselves as “going” on the event’s Facebook page, students floated in and out of the booth on the Diag throughout the four hours it was available. Leaders of the event were also scattered throughout the Diag area, encouraging students to register to vote in Michigan.

Rackham student Madison McKenzie, graduate assistant for democratic engagement at the Ginsberg Center, helped run the event, stating Tuesday’s launch of the voting challenge helped promote enthusiasm among students in registering to vote and participating in elections. 

“I think the event is just one really big, exciting kickoff to a whole bunch of stuff that’s going to be coming in the next year and a half to really make sure that the students know and engage in this challenge, because it’s a great opportunity to make sure that students have their voice heard, and to beat the rest of the Big Ten Conference,” she said.

Erin Byrnes, lead for democratic engagement and America Reads at the Ginsberg Center, was also on the Diag encouraging students to register, and iterated the importance of the event’s long-term effects.

“The Big Ten Voting Challenge will definitely continue on. Our goal that we’re working toward is drastic or dramatic increase in student-voter — not only registration, but turnout for the 2018 midterm elections,” she said. “So we’re really looking to enhance those numbers, student involvement and participation in our elections.”