Top policy issues for MI voters identified, GV voters split on importance of each


GVL / Josh Alburtus

Jacob Welch, Staff Writer

Every election cycle has new issues which voters use to guide their electoral decisions. According to recent EPIC-MRA polling, voters in Michigan are now evenly split between ranking inflation and abortion as their top issue.

The two topics, which were both cited as the top issue for 24% of voters in EPIC-MRA’s poll, are ones that have similarly found their way to Grand Valley State University as the campus community prepares for the upcoming midterm elections.

GVSU junior, Taegan Byers, places abortion access at the top of her electoral priorities.

“Right now, the issues for a lot of voters, especially progressive voters, are inequities in healthcare,” Byers said. “One of those inequities is the lack of reproductive healthcare, racial equity, equity for the LGBTQ community, inflation is a big one and COVID is also still a big one.”

Byers created Students for Choice, a registered student organization at GVSU formed in response to anti-abortion rhetoric on campus. The club is dedicated to being a place for those in the community who support access to abortion services.

In contrast, senior and GVSU College Republicans Vice Chair Zachary Schmidt is among those who place concerns regarding inflation at the forefront of their political decisions.

In addition to what he sees as demonizing rhetoric from national Democrats and a weaponization of federal agencies, Schmidt said inflation is one of his top concerns going into this year’s elections.

“Paying $4 or $5 at the gas pump, it’s hurting me in the wallet and hurting my ability to buy groceries,” Schmidt said.

While abortion has played a role in Schmidt’s outlook heading into the midterms, he views the issue as one that merits less consideration than other concerns.

“Abortion is an important issue to me, but it’s not the biggest issue for me this election cycle,” Schmidt said. “Obviously, we’ve got Prop 3 on the ballot here in Michigan so it’s top of mind, but it’s not what I’m thinking about when I go to vote for my candidates.”

Proposal 3, which will be featured on voters’ Nov. 8 ballots, would codify protections for abortion into the state constitution.

Michiganders and GVSU students like Byers who advocated for the proposal to be added to the ballot through signature collections believe abortion access to be a motivating issue that will drive sympathetic voters to the polls.

“Right now, a lot of individuals, especially those with uteruses and those who identify as women are focused on the ballot initiative that we will see and that we will be able to vote for this fall,” Byers said.

Schmidt, however, believes what he sees as loopholes in the proposal’s language that could result in late-term abortion access will lead voters to reject the proposal and a potential galvanization around protecting abortion rights.

“I think the majority of Americans aren’t for it,” Schmidt said. “Americans still want some restrictions.”

As election day approaches and both top issues pose increasing potential to turn out voters of varying political ideologies, informing oneself as to where candidates stand on various issues, Byers said, is central to ensuring that one’s values and voice are heard.

“You’ve got to look into the policies they support and what their views are and the type of legislation they will support,” Byers said.