Students discuss experiences at the polls

Student voting on campus has been increasing since the 2014 election, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement.

The three different voting locations for students on campus should draw a lot of voters, especially voting precincts 4A and 5C. These precincts are mostly student dorms, but at 3:30 p.m. there were only 16 voters.

When the polls closed at 7:30 p.m., precincts 4A and 5C only had 28 voters for the day, even though the amount of college students voting has increased since the 2014 election. 

According to the InsideHigherEd, “political researchers say efforts by colleges and universities to boost student civic engagement are paying off and that nearly 40 percent of students who were eligible to vote cast ballots in the 2018 elections, a significant upswing from 19 percent in the 2014 election.” 

The students who did make it out to the polls had positive experiences while voting on campus. 

“It was overall a really good experience,” Kelley Nichols, a senior integrated health studies major, said. “It was my first time voting so I was a little nervous and apprehensive, but the people working there were really helpful and nice. I didn’t have to wait in line too long and they answered any questions I had.”

Here at Kent State, student voting increased 135 percent from 2014 to 2018 according to Kent State Today

This is because Kent State launched Kent State Votes in 2018, a movement to get students to be more involved in politics and more informed when voting. Because of this movement, Kent State was designated as a Voter Friendly campus. 

Tiera Moore, the director of affairs for Undergraduate Student Government, has been leading the voting movement on campus. According to the NSLVE, the amount of registered voters on campus is around 200.  

“I don’t think students know enough about local politics, especially when they’re going to school in the city and they’re going to live here,” Mackenzie Burchett, a senior political science major, said. “They need to be aware of how much local politics affects them. One of the councilmen on Kent City Council never brings up any kind of issues that pertain to students. So there’s not a voice in local politics for students unless we make room for one. I think voting is a good way to start to do that.” 

In 2018, the amount of absentee ballots made up 13.8 percent, according to the NSLVE campus report.

“My dad sent me the absentee ballot form and I got it a couple weeks later along with a bunch of political candidate mail,” Elyse Dehamel, a junior fashion merchandising major, said. “Then I looked up all the candidates and decided if they have enough experience, what party they’re from and what their platform is. Then I filled it all out and (took) it to the post office.” 

Students also participated in voting and the election by working the polls. 

“I worked the polls for two elections when I was in high school,” Cheyenne Moore, a senior fashion merchandising major, said. “I didn’t do it in college until this year. I just happened to see it when I was registering to vote to see if I was interested.”

On the ballot for the Kent campus precinct, which can be found on VOTE411, there was Issue 18 which focuses on the Portage County Children’s Services Renewal. Issue 18 would “generate approximately $1,775,000 annually for five years beginning in 2020.” The money generated from the tax will be used in supporting the care and treatment of abused, neglected and dependent children. 

Likewise, there was a race over the Kent City Ward Council and Robin Turner (DEM) was the only candidate. Also the race for the Portage County Municipal Court Judge, in which only one person is in the race, Melissa Roubic, who has a bachelor’s of business administration from Kent State. The last item on the ballot was over the Kent City School Board seats.

More information on the ballot can be found at VOTE411

With this being a local election and the biggest issue on the ballot being Issue 18, which was only a countywide issue, it explains the small amount of voters at majority student voting locations.

“There wasn’t a whole lot on this particular ballot that most students felt was something they really felt like they had enough life experience to weigh in on,” Gwen Rosenberg a poll worker at the The Beverly J. Warren Recreation and Wellness center, said. “I think sometimes voters worry that they’re not sure how to answer it, you know who they want.”

Contact Ryanne Locker at [email protected].