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In The Public Interest: LWVAAA Working To Grow Number Of Young Voters

League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area
Lisa Barry
89.1 WEMU

In this edition of our bi-weekly conversation with the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, WEMU's Lisa Barry speaks with the league's Roddy Wares about their visits to Washtenaw County high schools to talk civics and encourage 18 year-olds to vote.

Is the LWVAAA project to help area high school students register to vote still going on?  Are the schools still keen to have you back?

All of the schools that we visited in the spring of 2018 and 2019 have been eager to have us return this fall.  We are going this fall (rather than in the spring), so that students will be eligible to vote in the Primaries on March 10.  We will make short visits back to the schools in April and May to register students that are too young this fall to register.

Do you think you are making a difference?  You have some interesting statistics to share with us about voter turnout among our youngest voters. 

Yes, we’re helping to make a difference.  Data from the Michigan Bureau of Elections compares the turnout of 18-21 year-olds in Washtenaw County between 2014 and 2018. 



**At 60%, Washtenaw County had the highest percentage turnout among this age group. 


You probably know that the presidential election in Michigan was determined by 10,704 votes.  The University of Michigan, LWVAAA, and WCC all played a part in this.

Do you just help students with voter registration?


In addition to registering the young people we also educate them about how, when and where to vote; how to vote early and away from home; and where to find information about elections, candidates and proposals.  We encourage them to sign up for Turbovote.org, which not only provides most of the information that we share with the students, it also reminds them by text or email of when and where to vote and when absentee ballots and early voting are available.  Last year, 43% of University of Michigan undergraduates joined Turbovote.

Proposition 3 is the voters’ rights amendment to the Michigan Constitution that was passed last November.  How has Prop 3 made a difference for young voters?

  • Under old rules, newly registered voters were required to vote in person the first time.  This is no longer a requirement. Voter signature is used to verify an absentee ballot.
  • Anyone can vote absentee by submitting an application.
  • Can register to vote any time up to the date of the election.  By mail up to 14 days before, in person up to day of election.
  • Voters still have to present a photo ID at the polls.  Eg. a Michigan driver's license or identification card such as a student ID with photo from a high school or accredited institution of higher learning.  (voters who do not have an acceptable form of ID or left it home still can vote by signing an affidavit).

What other projects will you be doing?

We’ll also be returning to WCC this coming February and March to register their students to vote.

Who is involved with this effort?

  • LWVAAA has a committee of experienced volunteers who visit high schools.  At WCC registration last year, 48 LWVAAA volunteers filled 96 two-hour assignments and registered 399 students. 
  • Trish Reilly and Edwin Pearl from the Washtenaw County Clerk’s officehave been invaluable as they visit many of our schools with us to provide expertise and registration forms. 
  • At WCC, Peter Leshkevich, Director of Student Development and Activities, and intern Matea Pejic helped set us up for four weeks in Sept. and October 2018. 

To Summarize – Anyone can still register and then vote in the November 5th election by going in person to their city/village/township clerk’s office.  For 2020 elections, plan to vote either in person or absentee.

If someone has questions or needs help with voter registration, who should they ask?

Ask their clerk – county, city, village or township.  These folks have the answers.

And the Michigan Secretary of State website.  

League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area
Credit League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area / lwvannarbor.org
League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area Logo

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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