By Spenser Hickey
With the elections five weeks away, the OWU election task force’s voter registration efforts are in full swing.
After the success of last week’s Channel 10 visit, the Task Force and the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs hope to keep registering students until the Oct. 9 deadline.
At their weekly meeting Sept. 24, senior Anthony McGuire, president of WCSA, announced plans to cooperate with TurboVote, an online system designed to facilitate out-of-state voting. According to their website, TurboVote “makes voting from home as easy as renting a DVD from Netflix.”
McGuire said that TurboVote was the easiest system for the task. According to ‘Student Profile’ statistics from the OWU website, approximately 37 percent of students are from out-of-state and stand to benefit the most from the TurboVote access.
Junior Ariel Koiman, co-chair of WCSA’s Campus Relations Committee, said that until now they had only been able to register Ohio residents. Thru TurboVote, anyone can register and fill out a ballot as long as they eligible to vote in the US.
The decision to use TurboVote was made after significant consideration by the election task force, an informal group of WCSA members (McGuire, junior Carly Hallal, vice president, Koiman and sophomore Maria Urbina) and university staff (Joan McLean, professor of politics and government, Nancy Rutkowski, assistant director of Student Involvement, Cole Hatcher, associate director of media and community relations and Sally Leber, director of the Columbus Initiative).
While the Channel 10 visit was planned primarily by the Student Involvement Office, Koiman and WCSA worked behind the scenes to get the word out.
According to Koiman, Channel 10’s visit led to around 70 students registering to vote, which given the student body size is “fairly massive.”
According to Rochelle Young, Channel 10’s executive producer of special projects, 54 registration forms and 36 absentee ballot requests were filled out on campus, the most of their tour.
Koiman stressed increased awareness of the need to vote.
“As the long as we have the opportunity for people to register, that’s what’s important,” he said. “We don’t want anyone saying ‘I wanted to register to vote but I couldn’t’. That’s what we’re doing this for, so if somebody wants to they can.”
Currently, the tabling will be done by WCSA members, though Koiman has reached out to the Greek organizations on campus.
While Koiman said he welcomed the help of Channel 10 and campus organizations, he was less enthusiastic about a recent visit by the Ohio Student Association, which tried to register voters on campus without notifying the task force or the SIO.
If they had notified SIO, Koiman said, they could’ve cooperated with the election task force.
According to organization representatives Ben Jacobs and James Hayes, the Ohio Student Association was founded last January by students “wanting to tackle campus issues across the state.”
While the College Republicans were not involved in the voter registration efforts, junior Tim Alford, president of College Republicans, said the club is excited to see OWU students taking an interest in the elections.
The College Democrats were approached for comment but according to Chaplain Jon Powers, adviser for College Democrats, the organization is on a hiatus as their leaders are studying abroad this semester.
WCSA will be tabling to register students until Oct. 9, the Ohio deadline for voter registration, and will continue to raise voting awareness with other events until Election Day.