Isabelle Schindler: The student vote in 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 10:34am

This March, the presidential race will come to Michigan and allow University of Michigan students to raise our voices and exercise our civic duty. Both the Democrats and Republicans are holding their primaries on March 10. This provides a unique opportunity for people to choose the direction of their party and who they want to see on the ballot in November.

The primary is also extremely unique because it marks the first major election since the passage of Michigan’s Proposal 3, which made it significantly easier to register and vote in Michigan. Some of the most exciting aspects of Proposal 3 include online registration, same-day registration at the clerk’s office and no-excuse-needed absentee voting. These laws will make it much easier for Michigan students and residents to vote.

If you have a Michigan driver’s license or ID card you can now register to vote online. This process is extremely quick and easy. So today, whether you are on a Blue Bus, waiting for your class to start or studying in the library, take five minutes and register to vote.

If you are an out-of-state student you can choose to register in Michigan or your home state. Out-of-state students cannot register online in Michigan, but the process is still fairly simple: All you have to do is fill out a voter registration form and mail or deliver it to the local county, city or township clerk’s office. If you want to easily register, there are many organizations around campus holding voter registration drives, which are an easy way to get registered. The deadline to register both online and by mail is Feb. 24 — after that, you can still register in person up until and on election day at the clerk’s office. For information about registering to vote and deadlines, govote.umich.edu has important information compiled by the Ginsburg Center for Community Service Learning.

Another exciting part of Proposal 3 is it now allows no-excuse-needed absentee voting. This means that students who feel they will be too busy to vote in person on election day can request an absentee ballot. There are so many reasons why students should go out and vote. Voting is one of our fundamental civic duties. There are people around the world who would give anything to have the right to live in a nation where they can vote in fair and free elections. By voting, you are recognizing these people, as well as honoring those who have fought and won the right to vote. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. One of the reasons why I vote is to honor the memory and courage of the suffragettes who refused to give up until women had a right to the ballot box.

Every student at U-M is passionate about something. Whether it be health care, the environment, funding for STEM research or federal support for the arts, every student has an issue that mobilizes them. We are fortunate to live in an age where information is available at the tips of our fingers and it’s never been easier to find information on prospective candidates and their platforms. Even if you don’t know much about politics, spend five minutes on Google and find a candidate who aligns with your views.

Voting in the primary is especially exciting because it allows students to have a say in the future of their party. Unlike a general election with two stark choices, the primary allows people to choose among many candidates. As we saw in Iowa, the difference between first and second place came down to just a handful of votes. Your vote is so important, especially in a primary.

As young people, we often feel unheard. We see the government taking actions we disagree with, and we feel frustrated and forgotten. One of the reasons for this is because politicians know many young people do not vote. In 2018, 41 percent of U-M students went to the polls. If young people want a seat at the table, we need to have strong showings at the polls and show that our voices cannot be ignored.

Registering to vote has never been easier and voting has never been more important. That’s why all of us in the U-M community should head to the polls and make our voices heard in this primary and in the future general election.

Isabelle Schindler can be reached at ischind@umich.edu.