Kent organizations pushing for student registration for upcoming midterms

Laina Yost

University organizations are kicking voter registration into high gear as the November midterm elections approach.

Kent State Votes, a coalition of students, faculty, staff and community members aimed at getting students to register, held registration drives on both Tuesday and Wednesday in the library.

The organization, which has about 40 active members, is looking beyond the midterms and toward the 2020 presidential election.

“We plan on learning lessons from this election cycle and applying them in our planning for the next one,” said Craig Berger, the assistant director of community engaged learning. “Our goal is to be nationally recognized at engaging students to vote and participate in the political process by the conclusion of the 2020 election.”

The Kent State College Democrats are hosting a voter registration event on Thursday with Jerry Springer, a television personality and the former mayor of Cincinnati, on Risman Plaza.

If people do not vote after two consecutive elections, they are purged from the voter rolls. No voters will be purged from the rolls until after the November midterms. Students can check their registration status online.

Reregistration is also required after an address change, even if they change residence halls. The city of Kent has 11 polling locations, including one at the Kent State Wellness Center. Polling locations in Ohio can be found online.

For the many students who live outside of the city of Kent, absentee ballots are available to send in. The application for an absentee ballot is at noon on Nov. 3. The ballot must be either received by mail by Nov. 3 or delivered in person by 6 p.m. the Friday before election day.

This year has seen a large push to increase voter registration among youth. In 2014, the last midterm election, only 39 percent of eligible Gen Xers cast votes (and only 22 percent among millennials), although they make up a majority of the electorate, according to Pew.

Berger said he is impressed with the enthusiasm he’s seen from Kent State students.

Parkland students from March for our Lives  have partnered with at least 200 mayors across the United States, including Jamael Tito Brown from Youngstown and Wade Kapszukiewicz from Toledo.

Election day is on Nov. 6, and the voter registration deadline is on Oct. 9.

“There’s nothing like participating in this civic ritual that unfortunately only a proportion of the world gets to truly experience,” Berger said. “When you’re in line to vote, you get to experience that moment when all different walks of life come together to determine the direction of the local, state and national communities we’re a part of.”

Laina Yost is the enterprise editor. Contact her at [email protected]