KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced Sept. 19 that the state's mobile office will stop at Western Michigan University this month to offer voter registration and other services to students, staff and area residents.
The stop is part of the 3,000-mile, 2016 Voter Registration Drive, which includes visits to 18 universities and colleges statewide. The mobile office will visit WMU from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Campus Flagpoles.
"With many students attending college in cities away from home, they may have questions about residency and voting so we encourage them to stop by and ask," Johnson said in her announcement. "And voter registration isn't the only service we offer. Students, faculty, staff and other residents can also renew license plate tabs or driver's licenses, change their address or take care of any other business they may have with the Secretary of State's office."
The visit to Kalamazoo is part of Johnson's far-reaching efforts to register voters and educate them about what to expect on Election Day.
WMU President John M. Dunn says campus officials are pleased that the WMU community will have expanded opportunity as a result of the mobile office visit to the campus.
"We are preparing our students to take their places as thoughtful and involved members of their communities," says Dunn. "One of the most important ways they can have an impact is to take part in the political process and become informed voters. For an eligible student, the very first step is registering to vote."
Johnson said the voter registration drive and visits to college campuses will supplement other efforts to register new voters, including:
- A postcard sent to every 18-year-old on their birthday reminding them to register to vote.
- Voter registration for newly sworn citizens at naturalization ceremonies across the state.
- A policy in which office customers who come in for personal ID or driver's licenses are asked if they want to register to vote, provided they are U.S. citizens.
National Voter Registration Day
National Voter Registration Day is a nationwide series of events designed to encourage registration and voting. Learn more at nationalvoterregistrationday.org.
Students should prepare to go to the polls
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Find out if you are registered
The last day to register to vote for the 2016 November election is Tuesday, Oct. 11. If you don't know whether or not you're registered, you can check online. If you're registered, this search will provide information about your polling location and allow you to view a sample ballot for your precinct.
If you're not registered, your application must be postmarked or delivered to your clerk's office by Tuesday, Oct. 11. You may obtain an application to register at county, city or township clerk’s offices; Secretary of State offices; or at voter registration drives. You may also download the application and follow the instructions for mailing or personally delivering it to your clerk's office.
Determine if you need an absentee ballot
Students that are registered to vote in Kalamazoo should make sure they will be in town on Nov. 8. If you will not be in the location where you are registered to vote, request an absentee ballot.
Bring a photo ID
The most readily accepted photo IDs are a Michigan driver's license or identification card, but you may also use a college photo ID and some other forms of photo identification. If you forget your photo ID, you can still vote by signing a brief affidavit, but that will take a little longer.
Know what not to wear
You cannot wear, display or distribute campaign-related materials within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling location. If you go to the polls wearing a campaign shirt, cap or button, you will be asked to remove or cover it.
Additional resources for Michigan residents can be found online at the Michigan Voter Information Center, a single, comprehensive source designed for voter convenience at michigan.gov/vote. The site contains sample ballots, as well as information on absentee ballots, polling locations, voting systems and candidates. A mobile version is also available.
WMU also maintains an informational site for students, which can be found at wmich.edu/vote.
For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.