Where and if Kent students vote

Helene Miller

Do you vote?

Students on campus discuss their voting status. They also say whether or not they plan on voting this year.

As November approaches, voting is becoming a hot topic. While the presidential election won’t come around until next year, statewide issues and local government positions are on the ballot. The question is, where are students voting or are they voting at all?

Kent State University has 27,855 students attending its Kent Campus as of Fall 2011. Determining how many of these students vote is nearly impossible, but the Ward 4, which includes campus and some surrounding neighborhoods, has a low voter response.

Councilman John Kuhar, representative of the 4th Ward, was voted into office in 2005 with 68 votes out of a total of 143 votes cast in that ward. In 2007 he was reelected with 26 votes. In 2009, 28 people, or about .004 percent of the on-campus population, voted in Kent.

Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer, the Ward 5 representative, wants students to feel like Kent is their home. She said it bothers her that students don’t consider Kent their city.

“I want Kent to become the city [students] associate with,” Shaffer said.

Seniors Derek Heim and Elie Jammal are both registered in Kent but haven’t voted since the 2008 election. They registered as freshman so they could vote in person for the president, but neither has paid attention to local elections throughout their time in Kent.

“Around elections people would always come around and hand out fliers and stuff door-to-door…like ‘Hey do you know about this guy? Do you know what he’s doing?’” Jammal said. “[They’re] just trying to get their stuff out there because I guarantee students don’t know about the local stuff.”

Councilman Wayne Wilson of Ward 3 recognizes that some students may choose to vote in their hometown. Decisions made there affect their families and may affect the students in the long run.

“Personally, I don’t care which way they vote,” Wilson said. “They need to vote. I think the vote is very, very important.”

Adam Matthews, sophomore VCD major, lives on campus but considers himself an active voter in his hometown of Amherst. He will be an absentee voter this year and has already registered for his ballot.

Brandon Harris, junior nutrition major, plans on doing an absentee ballot for Cleveland. He said he doesn’t really like politics, but he still feels that he should vote for his opinions about the issues and candidates.

Colleen Carter, freshman accounting major, said she is registered in Mansfield but probably won’t vote this year because she hasn’t really followed the issues.

Some students, like Chelsea Daum, junior business management major, and Lauren McGarvey, sophomore fashion merchandising major, aren’t registered to vote anywhere. Daum turned 18 while at Kent and would like to register in her hometown in Virginia eventually. McGarvey said she doesn’t know much about anything on the ballot this year.

“But, if I was to vote, I’d definitely educate myself,” McGarvey said.

Karch Marhofer, junior general studies major, actively chooses not to register. He made the choice because he doesn’t agree with how the system of politics works, specifically the amount of money that candidates spend on campaigns. He thinks that while local government is probably more important than national government, people know even less about it, especially on campus.

Contact city reporter Helene Miller at [email protected].