Wednesday, Aug. 7 — The East Lansing City Council approved new precinct boundaries and polling locations for Michigan State University students living on campus Tuesday, an effort seeking to improve voting access.
“It’s been a case for a number of years now that some students living on campus had to travel what I consider a great distance for them to vote,” Mayor Pro-Tem Nathan Triplett said today, referring to newly drawn precinct boundaries. “Under the new plan, for the first time in many years, any MSU student who lives in a residential hall will have (a polling location) on campus.”
Triplett was referring to voters who live in residential halls on the north side of campus near Grand River Avenue and Bogue Street who had to travel to All Saints Episcopal Church on Abbot Road — a little over a mile away — to vote.
The Council also approved permanent polling locations for various precincts on campus. While students at Brody Hall will continue to have a polling location there, four other areas on campus have new locations. Students in Mason, Abbot and Snyder-Phillips halls and West Circle dorms will now vote at the MSU Union (which is about a half-mile closer than All Saints church); those in the 13th Precinct, or the northeastern quadrant of campus, will now vote at IM East instead of Shaw Hall; 14th Precinct voters will move from Akers Hall to IM East; and 15th Precinct voters, who live in the south complex of dorms on campus, will vote at IM West instead of Wilson Hall.
Triplett said there has been “challenges” coordinating consistent polling locations on campus, as some were subject to change due to the university’s schedule or voters had problems accessing locations due to dorm security policies.
“We’ve had some challenges over the course of many years maintaining consistent polling locations on campus,” Triplett said. “Obviously that’s not good for voter turnout.”
Triplett said the changes will be effective for the upcoming East Lansing City Council election in November.