GV establishes on-campus voting opportunity for Allendale residents

Elizabeth Schanz, Staff Writer

GVL / Meghan Landgren

College students’ busy schedules can make it difficult for individuals to find time to vote, or even register as a voter. Grand Valley State University is increasing on-campus voting resources for the student body.

GVSU Student Senate and Office of Student Life worked with the Ottawa County Clerk, the Allendale Township Clerk and the Michigan Secretary of State to allow Allendale residents to vote on the GVSU campus. 

On-campus voting resources will allow Allendale residents to receive their absentee ballots at GVSU, register to vote and provide resources to other GVSU students who may not have residency in Allendale.

The Allendale Satellite Clerk’s Office will be the body managing these resources and will be located on the main floor of Kirkhof Center. 

The Allendale Township Clerk, Jody Hansen, said the office will now be put to use prior to election dates. 

“Allendale’s Satellite Clerk’s Office will establish the office two weeks prior to each primary and general election,” Hansen said. “This office will have extended hours, an increased number of customer service representatives on-site and will be available during the entire duration of voting hours on primary and general election days.”

When it comes time to vote, the satellite office will provide voting booths in which students will be able to fill out their ballot and then place it into an absentee ballot envelope. 

The voter can then choose what to do with their ballot next. They can either mail it to the main clerk’s office, deliver it to the main office or place it in an absentee ballot drop box with locations both at the satellite office and the main office.

Although this process is only available to registered Allendale residents, the satellite office hopes to help all voters better understand election laws and processes.

“Our satellite office can and will provide information to these voters,” Hansen said. “Partnering with GVSU and arming our on-campus voters with information ahead of time is the best thing we can do to help with these scenarios.”

These new opportunities are just a part of GVSU’s long-term efforts to engage student voters. 

In 2015, the GVSU Student Senate began to collaborate with multiple groups on campus to educate, register and turn out voters. 

One current partnership is with GVSU Votes! which is a nonpartisan organization that works towards voter engagement.

Justin Frappier, the vice president for external relations for the GVSU Student Senate said it’s a goal of the senate to involve students in the voting process. 

“We aim to collaboratively empower all members of our campus community to meaningfully exercise their right to vote, regardless of political affiliation, demographic background or identity,” Frappier said. 

Additionally, GVSU provides resources on campus for students through the Community Service Living Center (CSLC) which aims to enhance civic engagement through community engagement and curriculum across campus. 

CSLC has previously put on events such as “Elect Her,” the “Democracy 101” series and student-led voter registration drives all serve to educate and empower student voters.

GVSU will continue to host the Allendale Township Satellite Clerk’s Office in Kirkhof Center for all elections up until Dec. 2024, with an option in place to renew the agreement after that time.