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Get Registered, Go Vote

“Decisions are made by the people who show up.”

This line, which became an unofficial tagline for NBC’s political drama The West Wing, emphasizes the importance of voting and being a part of the political process; an idea shared by Tyler Johncock, host of WIDR’s Basement Show, who was one of the DJs outside of the Bernhard Center last Wednesday, 19 September , rocking the vote.

It was Johncock’s first time hosting this sort of voter registration drive, but he enjoyed the efforts greatly, telling HC that “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.” It can be challenging for students who want to register; navigating through misinformation, deciding where to register and, if they choose to register back home, learning how to vote absentee. But Johncock was hopeful, citing scores of students he’d seen register. Between the efforts of Johncock and the Secretary of State at Rock the Vote, and others underway at WMU, over a thousand voters have been registered.

Every vote matters, says WSA Political Affairs Chair Joe Szuszwalak, and not just for the Presidency. “The most important part of the elections, the issues that have the most impact on everyday life, are local issues.” Where it might be hard seeing how a single vote matters in such a big election, explains Szuzuwalak, state and local races are often decided by hundreds of votes, or even less, so every single one matters. In the coming weeks, HC will walk through Michigan’s ballot proposals, but in order to vote on any of them, registration is important.

In contrast to some persistent rumors about voter registration, Michigan does not require state-issued identification in order to vote; nor does changing address, registering to vote, or any other factor pertaining to voting have any effect on financial aid. Other common misconceptions and frequently asked questions are addressed by the Breman Center’s Student Voter Guide.

While it is generally encouraged for Western students to vote here in Kalamazoo, absentee voting is just as important as in-person voting, particularly for those passionate about their hometown’s politics. Jasmine Neldon, political science student, says that her future lies with her hometown, so its politics are very important to her. “My significant other and I hope to build a home someday in our hometown, so issues happening there are very important to us, not to say that issues here are not.”

Absentee voting isn’t just a matter of forgetting to register in Kalamazoo, Neldon reminds voters, but a conscious decision to vote somewhere else. Contacting the clerk of the location in which you are registered to get a ballot, sooner rather than later, is important. The State of Michigan does not, however, allow first-time voters to vote absentee; so either registering in Kalamazoo or making the long trek home on Election Day are the only options available to those voters.

“My best advice is to communicate with your clerk. All of the ones I have worked with have been very friendly and eager to help,” said Neldon.

The last day to register to vote is 9 October.


Editor: Gena Reist

Katelyn Kivel is a senior at Western Michigan University studying Public Law with minors in Communications and Women's Studies. Kate took over WMU's branch of Her Campus in large part due to her background in journalism, having spent a year as Production Editor of St. Clair County Community College's Erie Square Gazette. Kate speaks English and Japanese and her WMU involvement includes being a Senator and former Senior Justice of the Western Student Association as well as President of WMU Anime Addicts and former Secretary of WMU's LBGT organization OUTspoken, and she is currently establishing the RSO President's Summit of Western Michigan University, an group composed of student organization presidents for cross-promotion and collaboration purposes. Her interests include reading and writing, both creative and not, as well as the more nerdy fringes of popular culture.
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