Voting by numbers

NMU participates in voter registration competition

Northern Michigan University student Zane Zuzula, front left, signs up to register to vote Monday at the Northern Lights Dining entrance on campus as fellow students Bethany Beavers, back, and Emma Drever, front right, assist. Drever‚ chair of the assembly for the Associated Students of NMU, will run voter registration forums up until the March 10 presidential primary election as NMU competes in the Voter Friendly Campus project to get the most students registered. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)

MARQUETTE — Michigan’s March 10 presidential primary election is right around the corner. So, Northern Michigan University students are putting their civic hats on by offering tables around campus to help get as many students as possible registered to vote as part of a state-wide competition.

Associated Students of NMU is participating in the Voter Friendly Campus project from now until Feb. 24 to help institutions develop plans to facilitate the electoral involvement of university administrators, faculty and student organizations. NMU is joining other Michigan universities to see which university can register the highest percentage of students to vote.

NMU multimedia journalism professor Dwight Brady signed on as a faculty representative and said this is a great way for young voters to have their voices heard.

“The great thing about the Voter Friendly Campus project, from what I can see, is that it’s completely nonpartisan. The key here is to get students to participate. It’s participation, not indoctrination, so that’s really important,” Brady said. “Again, (the) chances that a student being civically engaged the rest of their lives is much greater if they get involved now when they’re young. So that’s another real plus to this and I do hope they get involved. And I’m really happy to see the enthusiasm of the students at NMU taking on this challenge.”

Student Emma Drever, ASNMU’s chair of assembly, said she wanted to take on hosting these tables as a way to get as many students to register as possible and this is one way of “testing the waters” before the general election.

What is your political name? ASNMU showcases an interactive sign for students to get registered to vote before the primary. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)

This initiative is a way to have people’s personal voices heard, Drever said, adding that she encourages all students to sign up to vote.

“It’s your civic duty; it’s your duty as an American citizen to put people in place that will dictate how your life goes financially, economically, in terms of public welfare as well,” Drever said. “A lot of local politicians don’t really do anything with foreign affairs but if you have opinions about economics or public welfare, you should be able to voice those through whom you’re putting in office. Likewise, if you think your people are doing a good job, you should be able to tell them that by keeping them there.”

Though the competition is a great way to motivate university students across Michigan to become registered voters, the organizers’ main goal is to get people engaged in their local, state and national governments, Drever explained.

Voting should come down to what a person’s principles are and how those will help lead the country, she said.

“We have a very unique consciousness about us; there’s a lot of people on campus who are really committed to sustainability, so put politicians in place that agree with you and will commit to saving the planet. Or (those who) will lower your tuition rates, if that’s your prerogative. You should have opinions about these things, because they affect you. So have opinions about them and voice them through your vote,” Drever said.

The primary election deadline to register to vote is Feb. 24 with the Michigan primary election taking place on March 10.

This Voter Friendly Campus project is not just a competition, Brady said, as students are helping each other “navigate the process of getting registered to vote.”

“It’s like the old saying, ‘If you don’t enter, you can’t win.’ And if you don’t vote, you really can’t participate in this thing we call democracy. So you wonder about all of these people on Facebook sometimes who are complaining about politics, and it

‘s like you wonder if they really voted. And if you don’t vote, why would you complain?” Brady said. “This is just a chance to have your voice heard and it’s great to see what’s happening nationally … college students are getting energized typically and I’m happy to be a small part of that.”

ASNMU will continue to offer voter registration tables from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the Northern Lights Dining and from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Lodge on campus.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net


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