With the general election only a few weeks away, the potential voters at WMU will have the opportunity to exercise the most basic of their democratic rights, many of them for the first time.
One hurdle that every voter must deal with before they punch their tickets in November is the process of voter registration. While not a particularly complex process, knowing when and how to register is an intimidating prospect for many Americans, especially for novice voters.
“There’s a common misconception that students can’t register in Kalamazoo if they are registered back home,” said Joe Szuszwalak, Political Affairs Chair of the Western Student Association, and chair of the event. “Students think that registering in Kalamazoo can affect their financial aid or insurance, but this isn’t true. It’s a completely different process.”
For WMU students in this situation, tomorrow’s Rock the Vote event, held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the main campus flagpoles and the Bernhard Center, should help alleviate the problem. Student volunteers, along with members of Kalamazoo Area League of Women Voters, will be manning registration tables all afternoon, registering and handing out information for student voters.
At Rock the Vote, students can transfer their registration from their hometown to Kalamazoo so they do not have to turn in an absentee ballot to vote. The deadlines for both the absentee ballots and voter registration are fast approaching, so students are encouraged to register now.
“Voter registration is important for college students because participation in the political process has implications for our entire lifetime, both short term and long term. Statistics show that voting is a habit, those who get into the habit of voting are more likely to continue doing so throughout their life,” said Szuszwalak.
Szuswalak also said it is important for college-aged Americans to vote because it is important that a variety of demographics are represented.
In addition, the event will feature free entertainment, including music from WIDR, as well as free food at both locations. There will also be a bus from the Michigan Secretary of State office on hand at the flagpoles from noon to 4 p.m., that will also register students.
Rock the Vote is the most recent event in a collaborative effort by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee and the Western Student Association to help register new voters at the University. The campaign, which began earlier this month at Bronco Bash, will end on Oct. 9, the deadline for Michigan voters to register for the Nov. 6 elections.