Although campus political organizations have registered record numbers of students to vote in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, some in-state students are hoping voting absentee in their hometowns will have a greater impact.
Many students from two of Michigan’s highly-contested congressional districts — the 7th district, which includes Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson and Lenawee counties, and the 9th district, which includes Oakland County — see their local races as more up in the air, making their individual votes more valuable.
Incumbent U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) and Mark Schauer (D–Battle Creek) are vying for a seat in the 7th district, which has been held by Republicans since 1993.
The state’s 9th congressional district features a race between Gary Peters (D–Bloomfield Hills) and incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Bloomfield Township).
Mark Grebner, a political consultant and owner of Practical Political Consulting in East Lansing, said this year’s student turnout will affect the congressional elections.
“In this case turnout is up and students have moved to the left, so students is what makes all these districts competitive,” Grebner said. He said about nearly 1,000 people from the 7th and 9th districts have had absentee ballots mailed to Ann Arbor addresses alone.
LSA junior Nathaniel Styer, president of the University’s College Democrats chapter, said that while his organization mainly encouraged their members to vote in Ann Arbor because of the simplicity of the process, the group encouraged members from highly contested congressional districts to vote at home or vote absentee.
“The only voters that we recommended were our members who are from the 7th and 9th districts,” Styer said.
LSA freshman Ariel Huang, who’s from Rochester Hills in the 9th district, said she’s voting absentee in an effort to get Gary Peters into office.
“I figured because my hometown is mostly Republican, if I vote Democrat it would count more at home than if I vote here,” she said.
LSA junior Domenic Terenzi, a Rochester resident, expressed a similar sentiment, saying the congressional election influenced his decision.
“Ann Arbor is known as a liberal stronghold, so I think it might be helpful to spread the vote,” he said. “That would be more influential.”
Similarly, many conservative students are voting absentee or returning home to vote. LSA junior Brady Smith, chair of the University’s College Republicans, said the vast majority of the organization’s members are voting absentee. He said the group has many members from both the 7th and 9th congressional districts.
Smith said he believes College Republican members can better influence local issues being decided in the election on Tuesday if they vote absentee in their hometowns.
“There are a lot of local issues,” Smith said. “That’s why I think absentee voting was very popular among our membership.”
LSA junior Grant Boyer, of Grand Rapids, said he is voting absentee in the hope his vote will matter more back home.
“I’m pretty sure Ann Arbor’s voting Democratic anyway, so I don’t think my vote would change the outcome of this area,” he said. “I think it will matter more there.”