Registration time is ticking away

Shamira Fowler

Students have one week left to sign up to vote in November

Portage County’s general election day is approaching, and the time to register to vote is dwindling. Elections will be held Nov. 3, and the last day to register is Oct. 5, one week from today.

Those who want to vote may register at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles; Streetsboro, Kent and Ravenna high schools; Portage County libraries or the Board of Elections, which is adjusting its hours for the last day of registration.

“We’ll be staying open to 9 p.m. instead of our regular hours for those who want to register on the last day,” said Lois Enlow, deputy director of the Portage County Board of Elections.

Board of Elections Director Linda Marcial said the Board of Elections will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on two Saturdays before the election to assist registrants. Regular hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Want to register for Portage County’s general elections? Visit any of the following locations:

&bull Department of Job and Family Services

&bull Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

&bull Happy Day School

&bull Kent State University, Student Accessibility Services

&bull Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Offices (Kent, Ravenna and Streetsboro)

&bull Portage County Board of Elections

&bull Portage County Department of Health

&bull Portage County High Schools and Maplewood Career Center

&bull Portage County District Libraries, Kent Free Library and Reed Memorial Library (Ravenna)

&bull Portage County Treasurer

&bull Portage Industries, Inc.

&bull Woman, Infant & Children Program (WIC)

Portage County residents have the opportunity to elect various local government officials, including city mayor, council members and judges.

“These are local elections, so we start out with municipal court races,” Enlow explained. “We have two municipal court races, then you have all your city, township and school board elections.”

Enlow said it’s great to see Kent State students coming out to vote but understands why some students may be hesitant to register.

“If they choose to register here, then we’re going to cancel their registration at home,” Enlow explained. “You have to answer a question: Do you want to be a resident at Kent or at home? Either way, it’s fine.”

Although anyone who is over the age of 18, a U.S. citizen and can prove identity may register and vote, Enlow said election turnouts are still not as high as she would like them to be.

“Generally it’s not real high,” she said. “Usually in the 30 or 40 percentile. We always hope for a huge turnout. I know it’s not going to be like last November.”

Marcial reaffirmed Enlow’s sentiments about Portage County’s modest voter turnout.

“That’s the case every time,” she said. “People just – they just don’t care. It’s sad. I mean, it really is. That’s our right, our God-given right (to vote). You can’t complain unless you’re voting.”

Despite predictably low voter turnout, Enlow said she still believes the lives of all Portage County residents are influenced by the general election.

“We’re . electing all the people who will be governing villages, city councils, school boards,” Enlow said. “Everyone always talks about the odd year elections as not being important, but they are probably just as important if not more important than other elections. These are the people who are governing your everyday life.”

Marcial said she agreed; elections are significant.

“First of all . you have all your council and your trustees, and then you have issues,” she began. “We have your three state issues. The first being for the veterans, second for Ohio livestock standards, third is the casino. And Kent will have Portage County Children Services, the Portage County District Library (issues to vote on). Then specific to Kent City, you have a tax levy renewal and a tax levy for recreational purposes. Well, you know, of course I think everything important.”

Marcial said she didn’t think the Board of Elections can do much more to generate a higher voter turnout.

“There really isn’t a thing that we can do,” she said. “(We) put things in the paper, notices, etcetera, but we’re busy enough just trying to put on an election.

“If you value your city, your city council and what’s in front of you . get out and vote.”

Contact public affairs reporter Shamira Fowler at [email protected].