KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A new state panel will offer recommendations to improve engagement among young voters and college students. Ariana Johnson, of Marshall, will represent Western Michigan University on the Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force.
She joins 32 other students from across Michigan tasked with exploring the voting process and advising state leaders on policy, program or administrative changes that could lead to more youth participation.
"We believe access, engagement and education all play important parts in the process," says Johnson, a sophomore majoring in nursing. "Education in voting, education in contacts, education in location, education in candidates."
The group, which will meet three times this fall, is also exploring barriers to access that could be deterring young people from voting.
"I am proud of the many men and women across the state who have stepped up to lead and inform our office on how to best engage students in our democracy," Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a news release. "I am confident with their insights and involvement we will develop a robust plan to break down existing barriers and ensure our elections are accessible to all."
Johnson plans to reach out to various groups on campus to talk about programs already in place to encourage students to participate in the voting process. She's also excited to talk with fellow students about their experiences so that she can share those stories with her colleagues on the task force.
The group will submit its final recommendations to Benson in late November. Johnson and other students on the task force will also act as civic engagement liaisons for the Secretary of State's Office in 2020.
"I think everyone should have the opportunity to voice their vote and really get involved," Johnson says. "You may be one person, but your number counts. Just like a jar of pennies; pennies add up."
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