Update from the field: Michigan HighlightsCampus Election Engagement Project
Michigan CEEP Director Dan Schultz reports Michigan fellows’ spring success is being built upon by the fall fallows. Schultz noted that “the strong registration spring efforts from CEEP Michigan fellows are leading to great current and future voter registration, voter education, and GOTV efforts. I anticipate a strong turnout at the polls.”
Earlier in the spring, CEEP Fellow Elizabeth Hinckley at the University of Michigan conducted seven voter engagement events, including a Bagels and Ballots voter workshop for engineering students, a pledge-to-vote campaign with student clubs and a presentation to graduating students at nearby Rudolf Steiner High School. The CEEP team helped activate a student group, Turn Up Turnout, launch the Bench to Booth project working with lab faculty to encourage STEM students to vote, and engaged the campus with the Big Ten Voting Challenge. Campus election engagement efforts were highlighted in the school newspaper and Hinckley personally registered 313 University of Michigan students.
“I loved my experience as a CEEP Fellow. I learned a lot personally and also about the voting process. I loved meeting the other Fellows and hearing about their ideas too. The thing I learned the most from being a CEEP Fellow is how many people, especially students, don’t vote due to lack of education on how to vote! If we can increase education, we can get more people out to vote. The experience is changing my views. Because I am well equipped with this knowledge, I can continue to educate even though my fellowship is over.” CEEP Fellow Elizabeth Hinckley, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
The current CEEP Michigan State University fellow, Talyce Murray, motivated in reaction to the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, set out to build upon Hinckely’s spring work and built a team to register more students. She and two student volunteers knocked on over 750 doors at Michigan State University residential halls, registering an initial 50 voters and educating many more, including a number who were unaware they had to register before voting.
Strong registration, education and get out the vote programs are also happening at other Michigan campuses. Along with the Student Government and University of Michigan Votes, CEEP fellows at the University of Michigan-Flint are organizing an event for young
voters called “Our Time Is Now.” They are expecting 100 students to attend, along with members of the public. The event will feature two panels: the first will feature Matt Deitsch of March For Our Lives, a U of M-Flint student recently elected to the Flint City Council, a student supporter of Bill Schuette, and a representative of the Black Student Union. The second will be an open session allowing students to discuss their concerns ahead of the election. They invited students from Kettering College and Mott Community College to participate in the event as well. They will distribute CEEP voting guides, sample ballots, and voting pledge cards.
The Mobile Branch Office of the Secretary of State attended Grand Valley State University campus for National Voter Registration Day thanks to spring CEEP Fellow Eric Szczepaniak. He also successfully worked with the Student Senate to establish a three-year contract with TurboVote to facilitate student voter registration, secured funding for GVSU Voter Vans for the 2018 election (over 800 GVSU students rode the vans to the polls in 2016 and campus advisor Melissa Baker-Boosamra anticipates more in 2018 ), hosted a series of Democracy 101 workshops, established a Democracy Ambassadors program sending students into classrooms to promote voter engagement, initiated a project with the Allendale Township board and local housing facilities to encourage them to hand out voter registration forms when students sign a housing lease. They are working on a long-term effort with the Allendale Township Clerk to get a precinct on campus by the 2020 election cycle.
“In my work as a CEEP fellow, I learned that nobody can go it alone when it comes to the promotion of democratic values. I am proud of the work I have been a part of in the past five months. Working with CEEP has only strengthened my resolve to keep up with this work. Democracy is worth fighting for, and I am glad I could join you for this part of the fight. Let’s keep it up!” – CEEP Fellow Eric Szczepaniak, Grand Valley State University
Amy Lazet, College for Creative Design staff member and CEEP primary campus contact, noted success with registration on campus using CEEP resources. She thanked CEEP for its help, noting, “I mailed the forms to the city clerks today, and we had a final total of 139 voter registrations and 20 absentee ballot requests for a variety of states. We are also providing basic voter education through reminders of websites such as vote411.org, the guides produced by CEEP, etc. and will be providing shuttles to the Detroit polling place.” With an enrollment of fewer than 1350 students, her CEEP collaborations are already making an impact on campus.
Michigan campuses are now transitioning to voter education and Get Out The Vote efforts that include candidate debates, forums on Michigan ballot initiatives, ballot information sessions, polling places locations education, discussing the role of elected officials, and creative programs such as “Ballot Bingo.”