The Rapidian

October 11 voter registration deadline approaching

Unregistered voters have until October 11 to fill out application to vote and get registered. Local groups are working to get voters signed up.
If you're not registered to vote, the deadline to register for the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11.

If you're not registered to vote, the deadline to register for the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11. /Grand Valley State University Courtesy Melissa Baker-Boosamra

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Register to vote by Oct. 11

You can't vote if you're not registered. Fortunately, there are a number of options available for those who have never registered but they deadline of Oct. 11 for voter registration is approaching quickly.

If you're not registered to vote, the deadline to register for the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11.

If you're not registered to vote, the deadline to register for the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11. /Grand Valley State University Courtesy Melissa Baker-Boosamra

If you're not registered to vote, the deadline to register for the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11.

If you're not registered to vote, the deadline to register for the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11. /Grand Valley State University Courtesy Melissa Baker-Boosamra

The November 8 general election is approaching fast, but there's another date coming more quickly: the October 11 deadline to vote.

"Registration is extremely important because if you are not registered to vote, you can't vote," said Grand Valley State University Professor of Political Science Erika King.

Laws vary from state to state. California and Colorado allow voters to register the day of the election, but that's not the case in Michigan. Fail to register by October 11, and you will miss out.

To register to vote in Michigan, you must be a U.S. citizen, be age 18 by election day and a resident of the city or township where you are applying to vote. Register by filling out an application available at Secretary of State branches, your local county, city or township clerk's office as well at some state agencies such as the Department of Human Services and Department of Community Health.

You may also download an application to vote at www.Michigan.gov/vote and hand-deliver the application to your city or township clerk.

If you choose to mail in the application, keep in mind you will need to either enter your driver's license number or personal identification card number on the form, or send in a photocopy of your driver's license or ID card. They will also accept a photocopy of a paycheck stub, utility bill, bank document or government document listing both your name and address. If you have never before voted in Michigan and submit your form by mail or through a voter registration drive you must appear in person to vote for the first time, although some exemptions apply.

Once your application has been processed you will receive your voter registration card in the mail. You will find the address of your polling place on the card, although you don't actually need to have your voter registration card to vote. On Election Day you will be asked to present a photo ID such as Michigan driver's license, passport or Michigan personal identification. Don't have a photo ID? According to the Michigan Secretary of State you may sign an affidavit if you either don't have a photo ID or did not bring one to the polls.

If you already are a registered voter, or if you submitted your application to vote in person you will qualify for absent voting.

Absent voting is a great option for senior voters or anyone with physical limitations because it gives them the option of avoiding lengthy voting lines, noted City of Grand Rapids City Clerk Darlene O'Neal. Absent voting ballots are available to you if you expect to be out of town on election day, are age 60 or older, are unable to vote without assistance, are in jail waiting for trial or are unable to attend polls for religious reasons.

Voters also can make the process easier by visiting Michigan.gov/vote and printing a sample ballot so they will know in advance what their choices are. You can also print out the sample ballot, mark your selections, and bring that in to the voting booth with you for reference.

"That's a nice option they may not be aware they have," said City of Grand Rapids Deputy City Clerk Stephanie McMillen.

Various groups are working to register voters with hopes their actions will help candidates who support their views.

Democrats hope to register a large number of first-time student voters because that demographic supported President Obama, King said.

"Does that mean they will come to vote for Hillary Clinton? No, but there is hope she can convince them to do this," King said.

Republicans also are working very hard to register voters who are more likely to ascribe to ideas offered by Donald Trump, said King.

Grand Valley State University's Community Service Learning Center, housed within the Office of Student Life, is working with the Event Services Department to work with on-campus and off-campus groups to coordinate voter registration drives, according to Associate Director of Student Life for Civic Engagement Melissa Baker-Boosamra.

Baker-Boosamra said they have submitted plans for designation as a voter-friendly campus and are executing a plan developed by a number of stakeholders to ensure students are informed and engaged in the democratic process.

Voter registration drives are being held on campus and her office is collaborating with the Ottawa County Clerk to make sure registrations are being done correctly. Voter registration efforts include collaborations with groups such as the NAACP and Advocates for Immigration Reform.

While the registration process can be somewhat overwhelming for new student voters, Baker-Boosamra said they are reminding students they will need to either return home and make arrangements to vote and request absent voting ballots, or register locally which could have financial implications for their parents at tax time.

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