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Speaking of Rep. Elissa Slotkin, most political prognosticators have the district as leaning Democratic, and she’s been working hard to keep it that way. There could be one potential glitch in her game plan, and COVID-19 could be to blame. In 2018, when Slotkin flipped the solid red 8th District blue, some of the credit went to students at Michigan State University in East Lansing, who helped her with about half of her 13,100-vote margin. The problem this go-round? One, Michigan State University urged students not to return to campus (or off-campus, as the case may be) this semester as classes remain primarily virtual due to the COVID pandemic. Many undergrad and graduate students, especially those living in off-campus housing, have returned, but not to the same extent as a normal college fall semester. Second, many of those students who registered and voted two years ago may not be still living or registered to vote in East Lansing in 2020, and there are much more limited voter drives directed at students this year. Slotkin’s campaign has had to pivot, and her team is trying to reach students virtually, including on social media, but has also worn out some shoe leather walking the neighborhoods. In addition, the nonpartisan Campus Vote Project is working with about 45 of Michigan’s 97 college campuses, including local community colleges, to get students registered and turned out to vote amid the pandemic, as well as recruiting poll workers — which is a big push this year due to the shortage of veteran poll workers who won’t volunteer due to the virus.


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