Schools welcome voter registration drivesPublished 6:04pm Sunday, March 23, 2014
THREE OAKS, Mich. – The power of the ballot is coming to a high schools or community colleges all over southwest Michigan.
The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties is conducting a student voter registration drive now through the end of April. Michigan residents who are 18, or who will turn 18 by either the Aug. 5 primary election or the Nov. 4 general election, are eligible to vote in those elections.
The local chapter of the League, based in Three Oaks, is using grant money from the national organization to run this nonpartisan drive among potential young voters in the two counties in southwest Michigan. The national campaign is titled The 2014 Youth Voter Registration Project.
John Ripley of Niles, the local chapter’s Voter Service Chair, said the organization has so far gotten commitments from seven high schools and the two community colleges to have League members spend a few hours at each school registering students. Ripley said the League welcomes any other schools that would like to have a Voter Registration Day. School officials may contact him.
Here is the schedule of the high school voter registration drives. In the high schools, students will be registering in or near their cafeterias during the lunch period. Posters in the hallways several days in advance will give students specific information about the drives in their schools. Among other things, the posters will tell students to bring their driver’s license or Social Security number.
• March 26: Benton Harbor and Niles high schools
• April 9: Buchanan High School
• April 10: Lakeshore High School
• April 15: Berrien Springs High School
• April 21: Ross Beatty High School in Cassopolis
• April 23: Edwardsburg High School
Lake Michigan College will have its Voter Registration Day on April 16 at its main campus along Napier Avenue in Benton Township. Registration will take place in the hallway outside the bookstore.
Southwestern Michigan College will have its registration drive that same day during the spring Campus Bash festivities outdoors at the Dowagiac campus.
In addition to the necessary Michigan voter registration applications, students and faculty will have the opportunity to pick up a variety of nonpartisan League literature. One handout has this long but provocative title: “VOTE (Sometimes It Takes a Four-letter Word) – A Step-by-Step Guide to Voting and Why You Should Vote on Election Day.”
One memento that each newly registered student will be offered is an “I Registered to Vote” sticker – a nod to the “I Voted” stickers that many polling places have offered for years.
League officials say research demonstrates that the earlier a person gets involved in the democratic process, the greater the chance that he or she will become a lifelong voter. And members of the Berrien and Cass Counties organization are hoping that voter registration will gather steam among young potential voters as they see their peers registering to vote.