2013-09-26 / Views

Leelanau League of Women Voters committed to helping people vote

By Vina Mikesell Fifth St., Northport

All over the country, Leagues of Women Voters joined with volunteers from many organizations to promote National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 24.

The goal was to make people who aren’t registered aware of how to join the rest of us in exercising the most fundamental right and privilege of citizenship in our great country — the vote.

The percentage of people voting here in the last few elections has been huge — way above the national average. Leelanau residents take voting very seriously. In the 2012 election, more than 65 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Promoting registration in Leelanau County may seem unnecessary. Why worry here?

First, several races were won by less than 20 votes. If you don’t think every vote counts, think again. Eight or nine votes could have changed the outcome of one of the commissioner races. In township or village races, sometimes only two or three votes separate the winner and loser.

Second, there are groups of people in our county who do not turn out at a high rate — most notably younger people. According to data obtained from the Leelanau County Clerk’s Office, in the 2012 General Election, two-thirds of eligible voters cast ballots. In contrast, however, only about half of 18-21 year-olds voted. In the coming months, our Voters Service Committee will be formulating a plan to reach out and assist these and other citizens with voter registration.

Remember:

 The last day to register for the November General Election is Wednesday, Oct. 9.

 You may register or change your voting address at the County Clerk’s Office, your Township Office or at a Secretary of State Office (the license bureau).

 First-time voters who register by mail may be required to vote in person.

 If you want to vote by absentee ballot the first time you vote, you must register in person.

 College students may vote in their home county or at college, if properly registered.

 A valid ID is required at the polls or, if you don’t have one, you may sign an affidavit on the back of the application to vote.

 Valid state IDs may be obtained at a Secretary of State Office.

 There is no fee for registering to vote.

League efforts on Voters Registration Day and throughout the year are an important part of our commitment to helping people vote. The League of Women Voters believes that democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of its citizens. It also believes that every citizen should be protected in the right to vote.

To find if you are registered and where you may vote, go to Michigan. gov/vote. For more information about registering or elections, contact LWVleelanau.org or visit Michigan. gov/elections.

— Author is the president of the League of Women Voters Leelanau County.

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