Across campus, students grasping clipboards are coming out in increasing numbers to ask one simple question: “are you registered to vote?”

As November’s presidential election approaches, members of the University’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are seeking to get each student on campus registered by Michigan’s Oct. 9 deadline. The student volunteers aim to make the registration process as seamless as possible, according to Jacob Light, an LSA sophomore and chair of the University’s ACLU chapter,

“With the election coming up, my main focus right now is making sure that we have all of our students on campus getting to know their voting rights, that they’re registered to vote and that they can feel safe and comfortable knowing how to vote,” Light said.

The University’s chapter held its mass meeting in the Michigan Union Monday night, where Light introduced Michael Steinberg, the legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, to the group of nearly 40 students.

Steinberg said the ACLU of Michigan created a website titled “Student Voting Made Easy,” which encourages all students in the state no matter their political affiliation to start the voter registration process online.

At the meeting, Steinberg emphasized the importance of student participation in the ACLU.

“It’s absolutely critical,” he said. “These are formative years. Those who become active when they are students typically remain active when they graduate.”

Light said he believes educating students on how to register is an important aspect of the voting process.

“It’s just so important that we are out helping students on campus telling them that they are able to vote and that it’s a very simple process if you know what to do,” he said.

Along with encouraging people to vote, Steinberg said the ACLU hopes to protect individual rights and civil liberties of American citizens, adding that the organization prevents the United States from becoming “a police state.”

“In many countries in this world, you speak out against the government, you’re going to be beat up, and nobody’s going to say a word about it,” Steinberg said. “That’s not the vision of a country or world that respects human rights and dignity.”

Steinberg said the group focuses on hot-button issues including affirmative action, freedom of religion and gay rights.

This year, Light said the University chapter will concentrate specifically on privacy, reproductive rights and free speech and how these topics influence students.

For this semester, however, the University chapter will remained focused on the upcoming election.

“If anything can come from our work this semester, it’s that the voices of students are going to be so important in this election,” Light said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re going to vote for. The fact that you’re voting and you’re able to exercise your civic duty is so important.”

In words of advice to students, Steinberg said their involvement in democracy is indicative of the future.

“You are the future of our democracy,” he said. “You are the ones that are going to make sure we live in a free country.”

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