With the November 3 election looming on the horizon, students’ votes are more important than ever. In order for issues that directly pertain to students, such as student debt, healthcare and minimum wage, to be recognized, students need to prove their importance in the election by showing up to vote where it matters. Student voter turnout has jumped over the past decade, with 20 percent of 18 to 29 year olds voting in 2014, and 36 percent in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, 36 percent is still much too low compared to the 66 percent voter turnout by those older than 65. Luckily for Hope College students, Hope is located in one of the upcoming elections’ most important swing states, according to FiveThirtyEight, which gives student voices at Hope even more power—as long as they’re registered to vote in Michigan. So how can Hope students register in Michigan, even if they’re not from the state?
First, check your eligibility. Any U.S. citizen who is over the age of 18 and isn’t currently serving a sentence in jail can register, and in Michigan you just need to have lived as a resident for at least 30 days before the election. So yes, any student living on or near campus this semester should be eligible, even if their primary address is not in Michigan. It’s important to note that some need-based financial aid scholarships might be compromised if you register in Michigan, so you should contact financial aid before you register if this pertains to you (note: this does not include the Hope College Illinois Scholarship).
So when do you have to register by? The voter registration deadline is 15 days before the election, so you should register before October 19. For those hoping to vote by mail, it is also recommended to register at least a few weeks before the election to leave time to request a mail-in ballot, as mail has been slower during the pandemic.
Next, register to vote. If you have a Michigan State ID or driver’s license, you can easily register online at mvic.sos.state.mi.us/RegisterVoter. And don’t worry—you can still register without a state ID or license. As long as you have the last four digits of your Social Security number or a copy of a paycheck stub, utility bill, bank statement or a government document that lists your name and address, you are able to register through this downloadable application: michigan.gov/documents/MIVoterRegistration_97046_7.pdf. Once you fill out the printable application, it can either be mailed to or dropped off at the Holland City Clerk Office.
While all the technicalities of registering can seem overwhelming, registering to vote as a student is much easier and quicker than it seems. And most importantly, it’s worth it. If every person on campus is able to vote in November, students’ voices can be heard louder than ever.