September 23, 2019 Richard Rezler
Washtenaw Community College student Kimberly Kozal was named to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s 33-member Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force, which is being asked to make recommendations for improving voter engagement among young voters and college students.
Kozal, a 52-year-old resident of Whitmore Lake, doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional college student. But her interest in “improving voter engagement across all populations and every political party” motivated her to apply for a spot on the task force. She has served as an election official in Green Oak Township for the past five years.
“High voter turnout shows that Americans care and believe in the process,” said the mother of three children. “My youngest daughter will get to vote in her first elections in 2020. That’s so exciting to me, even if she doesn’t vote how I vote.”
Kozal recently returned to college and is pursuing a Paralegal Studies/Pre-Law associate degree. She hopes to transition to a government position or working for a non-profit organization.
The task force will meet three times this fall – beginning this Friday at Lansing Community College – with a goal of providing final recommendations to Benson’s office by late November. The participating students were selected from nearly 100 applicants and represent 31 communities and 23 institutions across the state.
“I am proud of the many men and women across the state who have stepped up to lead and inform our office on how to best engage students in our democracy,” Benson said in a release. “I am confident with their insights and involvement we will develop a robust plan to break down existing barriers and ensure our elections are accessible to all.”
Members of the task force will also work with the Secretary of State’s Office throughout 2020 as civic engagement liaisons to their respective campuses. Kozal said she’s been impressed with the efforts already taking place at WCC.
“WCC is already doing great things to get students engaged in elections,” Kozal said, noting the college’s partnerships with the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area and TurboVote. WCC was one of the first five institutions nationwide to join the TurboVote Engaged Community College (TECC) program.
“There have been some changes in Michigan that will affect the next votes – like no reason absentee voting and same-day registration to vote. WCC is already preparing to get this important information out to students,” she said. “These changes should help more people get out and vote. I hope to share these ideas with the task force. It’s a very exciting time to be involved.”