By Paul A. Djupe
Happy National Voter Registration Day! Are you registered to vote? At home or here in Granville? I hope that it goes without saying that voting is a critical act of taking a stake in the future of the US and expressing who you are (if you’re a citizen). While all elections are critical, the particular district in which the campus resides (the 12th) has a contest that is running neck and neck between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor. In recent years there are not many contests for the House of Representatives that are hotly contested and the 12th district is currently one of the toss-ups. So, this is a great chance to register here in Ohio and cast a ballot that makes a difference (for either side).
How common is it for Denison students to get registered and vote here in Ohio? Considering some statistics from the 2016 election, it’s very common. Just over ⅓ were already registered in Ohio and about another ⅓ switched their registration to Ohio. Considering that only 25% of students are from Ohio, this is a pretty sizable shift.
You’ve seen the signs everywhere to register to vote. They are probably useful for a minute and then they fade into the background. That notion mirrors research that has been done on voter registration, which basically doesn’t happen unless you visit the BMV or you are directly asked by someone to register. In fact, at Denison, 73% were contacted by someone to register in 2016 (the figures below don’t sum to 100 because people could choose as many as applied to them). I honestly thought that number would be higher, but it does indicate how extensive voter registration drives have been on campus. As the figure below shows, students were more likely to report that the Denison Democrats asked them to register and vote early, though friends come in a close second.
Does it matter? What portion of campus votes? In 2010, one of the more consequential elections in recent memory (mine anyway), which saw the rise of the Tea Party, only 56% of Denison students said they voted. (Actually 56% is very good for a midterm election.)
A bit closer to home, 47% said they voted in the 2016 primaries that saw Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emerge from the two major parties. Another 12% might have voted, but they were not registered at the time.
On the upside, in the 2016 general election 94% of survey takers said they were voting (we did not verify if they did), 39% of them early by absentee ballot.
So, get registered. Do it in Ohio before October 9 (you can do it online through that link). Vote with your friends. Make a difference. (you can also register on campus through Denison’s non-partisan voter registration effort — contact Ramsey or Tabby.
In our fall survey, we’ll have a raffle where the winner most accurately guesses what percentage of Denison students got registered in Ohio and what percentage voted this fall.
Paul Djupe is a local cyclist who happens to have taught political science at Denison since the Harry Potter series was first published. You can learn more about his work at pauldjupe.com.
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