Secretary of State office comes to GV

GVL / Marissa Dillon
Seceretary of State downtown Grand Rapids

GVL / Marissa Dillon Seceretary of State downtown Grand Rapids

The Grand Valley State University Student Senate is collaborating with the Office of Student Life to bring a mobile Secretary of State office to the Allendale Campus this week as part of the 2014 mobile office college tour.

Madelaine Cleghorn, vice president of external relations for Student Senate, is working with the mobile office and student organizations to publicize the event. Cleghorn said the office will give students, faculty and staff in the area an opportunity to register to vote in time for the midterm elections on Nov. 4.

“By giving students an accessible way to register, they will be more likely to vote in the November 2014 election and in future elections as well,” Cleghorn said. “Also, there have been issues in the past with fraudulent voter registration, so we intend to eliminate that possibility by having people register directly with the Secretary of State mobile office.”

In addition to voter registration, Cleghorn said the mobile office “can do anything a traditional Secretary of State office can do.” These services include renewing a driver’s license or changing an address. Information about absentee ballots will also be provided. Cleghorn added that the office is also there to answer any questions people may have.

“We want to ensure their voices are heard,” she said.

Bob Stoll, associate dean for student life, has been conversing with Cleghorn as well as the mobile office in preparation for this event. Stoll said he has helped bring the mobile office to GVSU for many years and has always found it to be a popular resource for students.

Stoll said the main goal is to help get students connected so they can be active as engaged citizens.

“I would encourage students to be knowledgeable about the election process,” he said. “Everyone should be informed and educated about the issues so they’re able to make good personal decisions.”

He also said students should remember to bring their driver’s license and other necessary documents if they wish to take advantage of the office.

Political science professor Donald Zinman said he is glad the office is returning because it can make voting easier for students, especially those who are registered to vote at their permanent address instead of their current one.

“Getting young people to the polls is more of an effort, though not impossible,” Zinman said. “Part of the problem is the off-year elections, when the voter turnout among younger voters decreases.”

However, he said local registration can help minimize the hassle of driving home and potentially missing class in order to vote.

“It is your opportunity to have your say in setting the future direction of your community, state and country,” Zinman said. “Voting is your responsibility as a citizen.”

According to the Campus Vote Project, more than a quarter of college students reported in 2010 that they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to register, or they missed the deadline. In 2010, 13 percent of college students said they did not vote because they were not interested.

The mobile Secretary of State office will be located near the Transformational Link structure outside of Au Sable Hall on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If it rains, look for the office near the LGBT Resource Center inside the Kirkhof Center.

For more information, contact the GVSU Student Senate at
[email protected].

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