The Michigan Primary took place March 10. This particular primary was crucial in the Democratic presidential race, as Michigan is a swing state, making the voting results here particularly important.
However, voting for younger voters proved difficult during the primary due to issues with absentee ballots and limited precinct options in larger areas.
In the couple days leading up to the Michigan Primary, students on campus (and all throughout Michigan) still hadn’t received their ballots in the mail, or their applications weren’t processed.
“I was confused when [my absentee ballot] hadn’t arrived as late as the day of the election, but as I was walking back from the mailroom to see if it arrived, I got a call from my county clerk saying they would not process my application,” said Caden Wilson (‘21).
College students took to Twitter about their issues with absentee ballots, describing how it seemed like young voter suppression. The majority of college students are only able to vote absentee due to them being too far away from home.
“It started becoming more and more apparent that most of my friends who applied to vote via absentee ballot didn’t receive them,” said Emma Wood (‘20), who created a Twitter poll to see how many people were genuinely able to vote absentee.
The results were staggering.
“It felt like I only knew 1 person out of 8 that managed to vote absentee,” said Wood. “I was curious to see how that compared on a larger scale, so I made the poll on Twitter and asked friends to retweet it to try to go beyond the Alma campus.”
Based on the 62 people who responded to Wood’s poll, 50% were able to vote via an absentee ballot with no issues. With those statistics came the other 50%, who were unable to vote due to their ballots arriving late or not arriving at all.
Some students were able to go to their home precinct and vote that way, but many had to forgo voting entirely, due to night classes, work or other prior obligations. The Alma College Young Democratic Socialists of America (or YDSA) even offered rides to students who still needed to vote.
This was not only an Alma campus issue. Michigan State University was scrutinized for having limited precincts for their 50,000 students, making it impossible for every vote to be counted in time for the polls to close. MSU began trending on Twitter, as time-lapses began circulating of the students in line to vote. Many who did get their votes in had to wait upwards of three hours, yet many had to leave to make it to their classes or to work.
Students should not have to choose between their education or being able to cast their vote in the election. Both things affect their future, as well as their current lives.
“I felt confused and frustrated,” said Wood. “I felt so terrible for all the other people who were so excited to vote and couldn’t.