Michigan absentee voting laws likely to hinder student voting

First-time student voters might find voting to be a more difficult process than they thought due to Michigan absentee ballot restrictions.

According to the Mount Pleasant Secretary of State, since the Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002, first-time voters who register by mail, which includes registering with a voter registration drive or registering online, cannot vote by absentee ballot.

First-time student voters who want to vote in their hometown would have to drive to their hometown on Nov. 6, election day. This is made more difficult by the fact that the vast majority of students have class or work on that Tuesday.

The Secretary of State said students who cannot be at home that Tuesday have a variety of options. First, they can register to vote in person at any of the 144 Secretary of State offices in Michigan, which will give them the ability to vote via mail-in absentee ballot.

Students can also change their drivers license to their Central Michigan University address, which will allow them to vote in Isabella County. Lastly, students can visit their hometown county clerk and request an application to vote via absentee ballot.

Philosophy and Religion professor Hope May created the website cmuvote.cmich.edu in order to educate students about the voting process. May said she created the website because of the importance of the right to vote.

"The website was created in order to help students understand the Michigan election law," May said. "Voting is a fundamental right. As an educator, I feel obliged to help students understand and exercise this important right."

May said although many students opt to change the address of their drivers license, the process often just adds to the complexity of the ordeal.

"In 2008, one of my students tried to change his address via a mail-in registration form," May said. "The state was supposed to mail him a sticker to put on his license. But this never happened. In the end, this student registered in person at the Secretary of State."

May said that she believed that complex voting laws are a part of the cause of low student voting numbers.

"Helping students to navigate Michigan's election laws and helping them to understand the importance of voting are crucial to addressing the apathy problem," she said.



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