The Rapidian

Voter Turnout is a Team Effort

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

As an initiative to increase voter engagement this season, local agencies partner up
Volunteers set up shop outside of Reflections, a Dwelling Place senior community, to help get out the vote

Volunteers set up shop outside of Reflections, a Dwelling Place senior community, to help get out the vote /Dwelling Place

Underwriting support from:

Voting Dates, Locations, and More!

Make sure to apply for an absentee ballot by October 19, as these requests can be received until October 30 at the latest, as well as vote online by October 19.

There are numerous locations (some new) to be used for ballot drop-off sites. These are NOT polling places!

  • City Clerk’s Office, 300 Monroe NW (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm),
  • Election Central Office, 201 Market SW (Mon-Fri, noon-5pm),
  • Parking lot at corner of Market and Wealthy, Drive-thru (24/7),
  • Election Drop Box in front of 300 OTTAWA NW (24/7 drive-up), and
  • 4 GRPL Branches (drop boxes): Ottawa Hills (SE), Seymour (SE), West Leonard (NW), and Van Belkum (NE).

The GRPL and the Women’s League of Voters have created and distributed "Know Your Rights" booklets and are calling on partners to help with dissemination. Click here to receive booklets!

Visit michigan.gov/vote for any more information and resources to help with the registration process!
One of dozens of graphics being used by this team to get out the vote in West Michigan

One of dozens of graphics being used by this team to get out the vote in West Michigan /Well Design

A volunteer poses outside of Harrison Park Apartments on the west side of Grand Rapids for a voter engagement event

A volunteer poses outside of Harrison Park Apartments on the west side of Grand Rapids for a voter engagement event /Dwelling Place

“We don’t necessarily have to agree or like what’s happening, but it’s very important for us to have our voices heard and that’s the only way change can happen, it’s not going to happen if we just stay home” says Dwelling Place resident Daniel P. Drent. That is what Dwelling Place, and organizations across the city of Grand Rapids, are striving to do this season: ensure that people’s voices are heard. Voting is important, and it is imperative that members of our neighborhoods know their voting rights and the voting processes to be ready for November 3rd.
 
At the beginning of September, Dwelling Place started doing outreach with community partners to strategize about voting in our community. The group, which consisted of residents, the city clerk, members of the GRPL, Grand Rapids Proactive, Women’s League of Voters, Urban Core Collective, Well Design Studio, and more, worked together to brainstorm projects and to create more impact. The team convened “organically” as the city clerk, Joel Hondorp, describes. Hondorp emphasizes the importance of creating voting awareness in the community, and recognizes how much more can be done when it's approached by a team. "[This initiative is] a partnership that we’re all working together for one common goal: to make voting more accessible and better understood so the voter is better informed when they do go cast their ballot.” The projects produced by the group have ranged in medium, target audience, and scope to reach all of the nooks and crannies of the community.
 
One project involved inviting Hondorp who, as the city clerk, is one of the only people who can legally collect completed ballots, to visit two Dwelling Place apartment communities on October 8. This allowed residents to turn in their absentee ballots, apply for one, register, or fill out a ballot and directly submit it. "Every voter approaches voting from a different area or different comfort, and if we can come to them, it might make them even more comfortable,” remarks Hondorp. Voter registration tables have been staffed by volunteers at five different Dwelling Place apartment communities to do more outreach and engagement during mid September. 
 
One of the more digitally-minded projects this group is working on is a wealth of social media designs created by Well Design Studio that partners can tailor to their branding needs and to the limitations of several social media platforms. There have been numerous graphics made to highlight the processes for voting in person, by mail, online, as well at voter deadlines and absentee ballots. 
 
Wende Randall, of the Kent County Essential Needs Task Force (ENTF), says of the team of partners, "We recognized a connectedness between civic engagement and essential needs. It was a natural thing to say, 'Let’s work together and share what we are doing.'" An example of this teamwork is the ENTF's work with the League of Women Voters to provide online voter information sessions. Randall reflects, "All of the people involved want to support the efforts of other organizations, [...] making sure there aren’t gaps in what’s available." 
 
This season, it is our community's common goal to increase voter engagement rates and get the word out. "[Voting] is the only way change can happen; it's not going to happen overnight! It’s our civic duty and it’s what we are supposed to do,” urges Drent.
 
With a mission to improve the lives of people by creating quality affordable housing, providing essential support services and serving as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, Dwelling Place serves families and people in 4 counties across West Michigan. Dwelling Place is powered by volunteers and numerous staff persons; guest writers create our Rapidian content. Thanks to Katie James for her contribution of this piece. Katie is a Hope College Social Work student and is part of Dwelling Place's Learning Lab internship team.
 

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