Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is seeking to increase the number of college students who will vote in the 2024 national election.
On Thursday, Benson announced the 30 activists – many of whom have expressed leftist views on social media – who will comprise her Student Advisory Task Force to increase youth turnout on college and university campuses.
Benson initiated the SATF in 2019, the first year she served as secretary of state. According to an SOS news release, “Michigan was one of only four states where youth turnout was higher in 2022 than in 2018.” Michigan’s 2022 midterm election turnout for the 18-29 age group was 37%, the release noted, citing a report by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. The national average youth turnout rate was 23%. Total Michigan voter turnout in 2022 was 4.5 million ballots cast out of a total population of slightly more than 10 million residents.
“The new members of the Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force represent a strong base of active, informed young voters in our state,” Benson said in a statement. “I’m proud that Michigan led the nation in youth voter turnout in the 2022 election. This group of young leaders will keep up the momentum statewide and provide valuable insights on how to best engage voters on their campus. I look forward to our work together.”
Terms for appointed students expire in December 2024, at which time the students may exercise the option to enroll in a paid Campus Vote Project Democracy Fellowship, which is an offshoot of the national Fair Elections Center.
In a Facebook post, newly appointed SATF member Andrew Durkin stated: “Looking forward to working on this task force closely with my college, Lansing Community College, to spread the word about voting and its importance. Thank you to Michigan Secretary of State’s Office especially Sarah Reinhardt and Landon Myers for offering this opportunity to me. I look forward to helping make a difference ahead of the upcoming elections!”
It’s not too difficult to discern Durkin’s political allegiance.
“How can you defend Trump after this?” he wrote. “The Unions, who’s membership was so vital to his election in 2016, are now issuing ‘profanity laced statements’ about his stunt today at a non-union factory…. Trump claimed to be a supporter of the average laborer. Please defend these actions if you are still on the Trump Train.”
Elsewhere, Durkin shared a post from the Alliance for Michigan Power, a group advocating for net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner through the abandonment of reliable fossil fuels. Accompanying the share was Durkin’s own comment: “40 years until fossill (sic) fuels start running out. Time to open our minds friends!”
Another newly appointed SATF member, Carson Cooley, also serves as membership committee chair of the Hillsdale County Democratic Party.
Last May, the previous ASTF submitted its legislative recommendations to the Democrat-led Michigan Senate and House of Representatives. Those recommendations included:
1. Fund campus voter-education efforts.
2. Require on-campus polling, satellite clerk office, and drop-box locations for colleges and universities with a student population of 15,000 or more.
3. Permit new Michigan residents to register to vote online without a Michigan driver’s license or ID.
4. Allow the provision of free transportation to a polling location for voters (MCL 168.931 (f)).
5. Remove link between voter registration addresses from Michigan driver’s license or ID addresses.
6. Allow absentee ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day to be counted.
7. Establish Election Day as a state holiday.
8. Regulate polling place and line-management volunteers, including providing them with standard identification, as is required of election challengers and poll monitors.
9. Expand pre-registration for eligible citizens who are at least 14 years and 8 months old.
10. Permit citizens who are pre-registered voters to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 before the general election.