So you’ve read up on local and national politics and now just can’t wait to go out and exercise your constitutional duty. All you’ve got to do is go out and vote in November, right?
Wrong. If you want to have a say in local government, the time to vote is the primary on August 8, and the last day to register is today. Sure, the general election isn’t until November. But no Republicans are registered in the primaries for seats on the Ann Arbor City Council or in the mayoral race, all but guaranteeing that the winners of the Democratic primaries will win come fall.
That means that as far as city government goes, the real election is the August primary. You can check whether you’re registered in Ann Arbor at www.mcgi.state.mi.us/mivote/voterSearch.aspx. If you aren’t, you can register at the City Clerk’s office, at 100 N. Fifth Avenue.
It’s unfortunate that the primary election – which almost always carries far more weight in blue-tinted Ann Arbor than the general election – occurs during the summer, when most students are out of town. That’s due to a broad state law that fails to take into account the circumstances facing college-aged voters. It’s not the toughest hurdle in the way of college students who have the temerity to exercise their right to vote. That dishonor goes to the infamous state law requiring voter registration and driver’s licenses to list the same address, which discourages many students from registering to vote where they attend school. (That law happened to be drafted by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich), then a state senator, with the purpose of keeping liberal Michigan State students from voting against him in his successful, if crooked, Congressional campaign in 2000). Blatantly gerrymandered wards that split the student vote also don’t help students get their concerns heard in city hall.
The design for a fair democracy doesn’t include barriers to keep significant classes of people – in the case of students in Ann Arbor, one-third of the population – from voting. The only weapon students have is to show up and vote despite the barriers.