The Michigan midterm elections are underway, and The Collegiate staff wanted to know if students at Grand Rapids Community College were headed out to vote before the polls close at 8 p.m.
While some students expressed their disinterest in participating in the voting process, some were either planning to vote or voted before heading to campus on election Tuesday. For the most part, students showed their willingness to research what was on the ballot before voting yea or nay on the proposals and candidates. In Grand Rapids, as of 4:29 p.m., out of the 137, 243 registered voters 56,000 have voted in their precincts according to the city’s voter turnout interactive map. Voter registration numbers reached 7,472,287 registered voters in the state of Michigan before the election.
Nathan Coppock, 18, from Kentwood, is a freshman at GRCC and was eager to do his homework before heading to the polls.
“(I’m) planning on voting later,” Coppock said. “(I) haven’t researched the proposal, I am planning on doing that after my next class.”
Coppock wasn’t the only student researching before voting. Mallory Mundy, 20, of Hudsonville, was reading the proposals before our reporters caught up with her in the hallway. In regard to Proposal 1, which would authorize the use of recreational marijuana in Michigan, Mundy so far is impartial.
“For the first proposal, I can see both sides,” she said. “It will happen no matter what. Some people use it for personal reasons. I understand against (the proposal) because it could cause car crashes and stuff and that kind of freaks me out… I think (voting) is cool because it’s an experience everyone should have. Our vote does count and it’s something we should all do.”
Many students shared their views on proposal one, like Coppock, and regardless of where they stood on the issue they voiced their opinions.
Eric Robinson, 20, of Grand Rapids, has not voted yet but said he planned to cast his vote for Proposal 1 before the polls close on Tuesday.
“How I view it, if you want to smoke marijuana go ahead,” Robinson said. “It’s your freedom to do it.”
Not all students shared the same opinion on legalizing recreational marijuana in Michigan as in the case of Yeasmin Santos, 19, of Grand Rapids, who is against the proposal.
“I don’t smoke, so I don’t know (if it should be legalized),” Santos said. “(But) I don’t think it’s right.”
Some students were first time voters during this election and weren’t sure about the voting process. Brandee Keith, 25, of Grand Rapids, is voting for the first time and is sure about her stance on Proposal 1.
“I feel like they’re pretty good proposals,” Keith said. “I am definitely voting yes for marijuana. I’m not familiar with the other proposals. I’m kind of nervous because it’s my first time. I don’t know what to expect.”
For some, like Donna Mourer, 57, of Sparta, voting is a right we should exercise, and she hopes to see the roads fixed after these elections.
“I feel I got my say,” Mourer said. “It’s your duty.”
Kalli Segal, 18, of Grand Rapids, planned on voting later today and thinks voting is important at all levels, local and national.
“I think that if you want to be politically involved, voting is one of the most important things,” Segal said. “Especially on a local level. I think on a nationwide level it’s not as important, but when these laws affect you, you have to stand and get your vote in. I’m just voting in general for the three main proposals. I can’t remember them off the top of my head, but legalizing marijuana and stuff like that.”
Other students echoed Segal in her plan to vote later in the day. Saylor Bower, 18, of Big Rapids, plans on voting and thinks everyone should participate in voting.
“I believe it’s a privilege to have a voice in our decisions in our lives,” Bower said. “I think that it’s just a privilege to have the ability to (vote), so I think that everyone should. I’m voting yes for all three of the (proposals). For the legalization of marijuana, the gerrymandering, straight ticket vote and then I actually still need to do some more reading on the governor one.”
The American voting process gives everyone a voice in choosing government leaders. In our search for students we found three women sitting at a table in the Student Center, all from different cultural backgrounds, who participated in the elections to have their voices included in the decision-making process.
Elham Saleh, 18, of Palestine, plans on voting today after her classes are done for the first time. She is voting because she feels like “we have a voice and an opinion.”
Also a first-time voter, Rebecca Lopez, 19, of Mexico, will have her voice be heard during these elections in an attempt to unify the nation.
“I think our nation is divided, and I think at one point we just need to unite and just be together,” Lopez said.
For 18-year-old Aiden Kebede, of Ethiopia, who is also a first-time voter this year, voting is not just about electing officials. It’s about ensuring her opinion is not overshadowed by the rest.
“I am voting,” Kebede said. “I think it is important to have our voice heard, especially as a minority. For me, it’s important to make sure my voice isn’t being drowned out by other people.”
Hannah Piotrowski, 22, of Philadelphia, noticed Americans are more engaged in the elections and thinks it’s a good change.
“It seems like a lot more people are paying attention this year which is great,” Piotrowski said. “Vote for history, for the future. Because you can, today.”
Editor’s Note: Collegiate reporters Lisa Stapel, Lillian Linscott, Brittney Whitefield, Andrea Sciamanna, Dan Frederick, Deanna Bergers, Audra Schildhouse, Yesenia Santos, Carolyn Mathis, Brooklyn Andres, Najd Ayari, Tessa Osborne and Molly Mills, contributed to this report.