Why it’s important to register to vote


Retired nurse Sally Crane drops a part of a voter’s ballot into the ballot box during the Ohio Primary election at the Presbyterian Church on East Summit Street on Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

Evan Harms

Though the November election may seem far off, the voter registration deadline of Oct. 11 is extremely close.

Ohio residents can register to vote online, through mail, or in-person.

“If people aren’t registered [to vote] by tomorrow, they won’t be able to participate in this crucial presidential election,” said Political Science major Lindsey Walker.

As a volunteer with campus voter registration on behalf of Kent for Hillary, Walker asked passers-by on the Esplanade if they were registered and if they knew the details of their voting location.

“If politicians realized that young people vote, they would actually address issues we cared about …. For a lot of us, this is our first presidential election,” said Walker.

For many student organizations, getting new students acquainted with the registration process and prepared for their first election is essential.

“A main concern for us on student government with this election is getting all the students who’ve never voted before registered. A lot of them are not registered, they don’t know how to register, it’s a confusing process to go through,” said Director of Governmental Affairs at Undergraduate Student Government Keri Richmond, “We want to help with that.”

Students can register in-person by accessing any number of booths around campus, sponsored by a variety of organizations. The Portage County Board of Elections Office, the office of the Registrar, or any Deputy Registrar of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles also offer in-person voter registration.

Student organization leaders also emphasized the importance of actually voting once someone is registered.

“When you don’t vote, you sacrifice your voice and your right to criticize the system,” said Undergraduate Student Government Senator Matthew Chernesky.

Chernesky cites the results of the infamous 2000 presidential election, in which George Bush defeated Al Gore by a margin of roughly 500 votes.

“If 500 more people would’ve voted, a great deal could have changed,” said Chernesky.

Even locally, slim victories are an issue.

According to press release from Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, 35 elections and 8 Issues came down to one vote margins or tie-breaking events in 2013. Under Ohio law, coin-flipping and card-drawing are legitimate tie-breakers in elections.

“Voter turnout was only 26% that year. In my opinion those [non-voters] wanted their officials decided by a coin toss,” said Chairman of Ohio College Republican Federation Christian Pancake.

Many of those slim victories occurred on local elections (The card-drawing technique was actually used in a 2013 mayoral race.)

“Vote for your judges, city council members, vote for everybody, because your local officials are more representative of you than anyone else” said Pancake.

“Even if you’re undecided, still register because at least you have the option to make that choice in November” said Walker.

All registration applications must be submitted by Tuesday, Oct. 11 in order to vote in the Nov. 8 election.