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Two CMU students contribute to state report on college voters

The Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force poses with Secretary of State Joselyn Benson at Lansing Community College.

A statewide student task force delivered its recommendations on increasing turnout among college voters to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Dec. 17.

Two Central Michigan University students served in the process.

Student Government Association President Jake Hendricks and Dearborn junior Adam Abusalah went to Lansing three times over the fall, along with 30 other students from 23 Michigan colleges and universities, to produce the Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force’s 28-page report.

The report identifies barriers keeping college students out of the voting booth, such as travel logistics, documentation and comprehension. It proposed ways that universities, the U.S. Department of State and students can help.

Key recommendations outlined in the report include:

  • Designating Election Day as a state holiday.
  • Free transportation provided by universities and local transit to and from polling places and clerk offices.
  • Pre-paid postage on absentee ballots and university ballot drop-boxes.
  • Universities integrating voter registration into the orientation process and professors including basic voting information in course syllabi.
  • Colleges providing online documentation of a student’s address and Secretary of State clerks accepting it as proof of address when registering to vote. (CMU provides access to your Mount Pleasant address on its website).
  • A verification process allowing students with out-of-state licenses to register to vote online.

Students are encouraged to coordinate with their universities to create educational campaigns and events to foster comprehension and awareness on campus. The report also advocates for a statewide coalition of college students to lobby state and university governments for policy to increase turnout.

The road ahead for these recommendations, Hendricks said, is lobbying Lansing and university administrations along with student-driven change on campus.

“The big takeaway for student government is the initiatives, explaining to students how to vote, participating in different challenges that are put on,” such as the Michigan Collegiate Voting Challenge, he said.