Promote the Vote enables civic responsibility, promotes the vote


GVL / Jonathan Lantiegne

Kayla Worthy, Staff Writer

Election day is Nov. 2 this year and while this isn’t a presidential election, it’s still important for all who are eligible to vote to go out and do so. Absentee ballots are now available to voters in all communities.

Absentee ballots are ballots that are completed and mailed in advance of an election by a voter who is unable to be present at the polls to vote, for whatever reason. Absentee ballots rates have increased since past elections due to COVID-19. However, at Grand Valley State University  there are many potential first-time votes and will be new to the process, it is anticipated that people will need some help. 

Promote the Vote, a coalition of voting rights groups and organizations of pro-voters, launched a Michigan-based nonpartisan voter protection hotline (855) I-VOTE-MI. Any Michigan resident who calls into the hotline will be able to get their voting-related questions answered and to get responses and recordings to incidents of voter suppression. It is currently available in English, but for those who want assistance in other languages, there are national hotlines available and can be found at 

“We are dedicated to ensuring that all Michiganders have free and fair access to the ballot,” said Shira Roza, voting rights manager for Promote the Vote. “Ensuring that Michiganders have the information they need to make their voices heard at the ballot box and addressing incidents of voter suppression are critical in every election. Promote the Vote, together with our partners across the state, will be on guard, protecting and defending all Michiganders’ freedom to vote.”

Promote the Vote is looking to help students register to vote, in the way that’s easiest for them. If students are unable to go home to vote during the election then an absentee ballot is the easiest and quickest way to get their voices heard.

“In the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the national nonpartisan election protection hotline received more than 7,500 calls from Michigan alone,” Roza said. “Many of these calls were from voters exercising their constitutional right to vote by absentee ballot for the first time. As voters across Michigan and across the political spectrum continue to utilize absentee voting at high rates, our Michigan-based hotline will remain a resource for voters with questions about how to register and vote.”

If students are looking for a well-rounded group to be a part of for the purpose of being more aware of world issues, The Community Service Learning Center is the place to go. They are hosting a Democracy 101 to help promote voter engagement on campus this year. Their first meeting was held this past Wednesday on Sept. 29. These meetings are held monthly, with the exception of Nov. so far. There will be one held in Oct. and also in Dec. 

“While it is Democracy 101, it will not always center around voting and voter engagement,” said Abby Caswell from the Community Service Learning Center. “The October session will focus on and discuss affordable housing while the December session will focus on and discuss activism surrounding immigration.”

If students are looking to get a variety of information, attending these meetings is the best route. The latest meeting lasted for two hours, with each hour broken down into different focus points. They had student speakers talk about the efforts of increasing student voter engagement and two speakers from Campus Elect and Campus Vote Project.

The first hour was centered around their presentations, and the second hour was a facilitated discussion about the information students learned and their own experiences with voting. The speakers featured at this past meeting were Samuel Jacobs, Newman Civic Fellow and former Campus Election Engagement Project Fellow, Ellen Wehrman, Co-Chief Institution Civic Power Campus Elect, and Landon Meyers, Michigan Coordinator Campus. 

Students should look out for GVSU’s voter engagement efforts such as the voter registration drives, national voter registration day, satellite clerk’s office, couch/texting parties and classroom presentations. The purpose of these efforts is to stress how important the college vote is.

Civic engagement is the end goal and purpose for this group. It encompasses actions wherein individuals participate in activities of personal and public concern that are both individually life enriching and socially beneficial to the community. Because of this, student resources will be abundantly available on the GVSU campus and the Promote the Vote hotline will always be available as well.

Hotline hours and staffing will be adjusted based on call volume, but voters can always leave a message, which will be promptly returned by hotline staff, supported by on-call attorneys. Students can reach them at (855) I-VOTE-MI.