An important step in this year’s election cycle is quickly approaching. On March 10, 2020, Michigan’s constituents will have the opportunity to voice support for their candidate of choice in the Michigan Presidential Primary Elections.
Voters across the state will attend open ballots in order to determine their respective party’s most desirable candidate. The more votes a candidate receives, the more likely they are to “win” a state’s primary.
And every individual vote counts, especially yours. The most critical demographics in presidential races are getting younger, and as the next generation’s prepare to inherit this democracy, the importance of voter literacy is underscored.
Loy Norrix English teacher, Lisa Jensen, decided to lead a workshop Monday, March 2. Helping aspiring student-constituents navigate through the maze of paperwork required to register and vote, Jensen hopes that students can take something away from the meeting.
“Getting through the bureaucracy is a learning experience in itself,” said Jensen adding on that she hopes the session will instill a sense of political responsibility in our youth, and that “hopefully they’ll want to learn more about their candidates, and understand the importance of voting.”
The meeting which was held after school in M12 on Monday, March 1, was attended by a pocket-sized group of curious and politically invigorated students, some of whom weren’t even of legal voting age.
Because of recent amendments to the Michigan voter registration process — if you’re 17 and a half, you can legally register to vote, so long as you turn 18 before the elections. The recent adaptation to the voter registration process is important for younger voters to understand in order to fully take advantage of their constituency.
For the first time, new voters have a larger window of time to register. Under the revised system, a 17 year old can register as if they’re already at the legal age of majority. This provides young voters with a few extra months time to complete the registration process before the national elections begin.
However, the privilege to participate in our electorate system can easily be overlooked, or forgotten. Especially with the busy academic life a high schooler is expected to maintain.
“I think that it’s important for people to be as informed as possible. It’s possible to make ill-informed decisions if you aren’t educated,” said Wyatt Harris, a student who attended the voter registration meeting.
Providing the materials and guidance needed to successfully register, Jensen showed students how to fill out paperwork and demonstrated what kinds of documents would be necessary when registering. Students in attendance were shown a powerpoint presentation with detailed instructions on how to access documents and voter resources on the Michigan Secretary of State webpage.
However for anyone who still might be struggling with the registration process, Jensen is always available for guidance and advice. And for those headed to the Secretary of State this year, Jensen said, “If you don’t have an ID, bring an open mind.”