If you are reading this, you already probably know that it is an election year. While many people are aware of the presidential election, many fewer people understand that a lot of "smaller" races will be on the ballot--including candidates for the Michigan Board of Education and candidates for local school board races.
Every year, people lose out on the opportunity to vote because they are not registered to vote. This might sound obvious, but it's not. If you are an advocate for public education, your first job is to get your neighbors, friends, students, random strangers registered to vote.
You can champion candidates until you are blue in the face, but if someone is not registered, she or he cannot vote. So--the first step to getting people to vote in local school board elections is ensuring that they are registered.
Here's how to promote voter registration
Step 1. Ask people
Ask people--but especially people who are new voters or recently moved to the area: are you registered to vote in...Ann Arbor... Dexter... Ypsilanti... Saline... Chelsea... Manchester... Whitmore Lake... (you get the picture).
If the answer is No, I Don't Know, or I Just Moved, you can check whether someone is registered (at the correct address) through the Secretary of State using this link.
For renters, especially, who move frequently, keeping registration up to date is important.
If the answer is Yes, I am registered to vote, then go to Step 3.
Step 2. Help someone register to vote
The last day to register to vote for the November 2016 election is October 11, 2016.
Applicants fill out an application, at a Secretary of State's office, online, or in person at a city/township clerk's office. [If someone registers online, that person has to show up in person to vote the first time.] The application is simple, and you can print it out and bring it in to the city/township clerk's office.
(If you are only talking to one person in a family, remind that person to tell their other family members to register too!)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Michigan law says your voter registration has to match your driver's license/state ID address, so often updating both at the Secretary of State is the thing to do.
Step 3. Campaign for Candidates.
Talk to your friends and neighbors about the down-ballot elections, such as the Michigan Board of Education and the local school board elections. For that, you have a little more time, until Election Day itself!