At Rackham, the freedom to voice your opinion and engage in intellectual exchange is the cornerstone of our academic mission. In the United States, the right to make your voice heard by voting is just as fundamental to our democratic society. That’s why I am urging all graduate students who are registered to vote to do so on or before November 3. If you are not yet registered to vote, you can still do so right up to the day of the election.
In February of this year, we launched the Rack the Vote initiative, a nonpartisan resource to help all members of the Rackham community understand and navigate the requirements for voting in Michigan. In addition to key dates and registration details, the page includes important information relevant to students who intend to vote in Michigan this November. I hope that you can make use of the page yourself, and also that you will share it with friends and peers you know who might have questions about how they can participate.
Here are some key points to remember:
- Any registered voter can now vote before Election Day in Michigan.
- Michigan voters don’t need a reason to vote before Election Day; anyone can request an absentee voter ballot.
- You can apply for an absentee voter ballot online until October 30.
- You can check your Michigan voter registration status online.
Although international students are not eligible to vote, I know many of you are still interested in engaging with the U.S. election process. The U-M International Center provides several ideas for how you can do so.
Among other campus election resources, the Democracy and Debate Theme Semester site provides further information and perspectives on this election, along with links to upcoming events. Finally, Michigan is an active partner with the Big Ten Voting Challenge, through which registered voters can sign up for election reminders, find polling place locations, and more.
According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, the U.S. student voting rate in the 2018 midterm elections was 40.3%, up from 19.3% in 2014. That’s a promising trend. But the same study shows that just over half of all registered student voters in the United States cast ballots in 2016.
For those of you who are eligible to vote, I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to do so. Just as diversity is essential to our excellence as a graduate school, a democracy is at its best when all of its constituents engage. In a dynamic political climate where the opinions that drive our headlines and our social feeds can feel overwhelming, a critical and meaningful way to shape the issues that matter to you is by voting. Whether you do so in person or through absentee ballot, I urge you to take the time to take part.