Officials from the City of Oxford and Miami University are joining together in the hopes of getting students registered to vote for the upcoming March Primary Election, as well as for all future elections.
Coordinator for Off Campus Affairs Bobbe Burke said her office wants students to become active voters.
“We want everyone to understand the importance of people in democracy so that if a student just turns 18 right now, they can become a life-long voter; that’s what we’re after,” Burke said.
Miami Lobbyist Randi Thomas said, “The first thing that is important to note is that this is more of a voter registration drive, we are not trying to get students to vote for a certain candidate, we just want students registered and to just get out and vote.”
Thomas said it is part of the university’s mission to engage citizens.
“Recently, there have been changes in state law, going back four or five years that revised what it is voters must bring to exercise their right to vote,” Thomas said.
Their main focus is to simply educate students on what to bring to the polls, whether here in Butler County or where each student hails from, according to Thomas.
“College is unique because students can decide to vote at home or at school, so it becomes more complicated,” Burke said. “If students don’t live here, they need to understand the process of voting here, we want students to understand that.”
Deciding where to vote is one of the largest obstacles college students face when it comes to registering. If students decide to not vote in Butler County, they may decide to vote at home. Voting at home can become confusing especially if home is in another state, according to Burke.
“It’s not like everyone can just vote here, because if students don’t vote here, they may go home to another state, which can sometimes be a different process entirely,” Burke said.
Thomas said the process is confusing.
“Sometimes students go to the polls on Election Day to vote and then realize that they haven’t registered,” Thomas said. “Not everyone realizes that it is a process; students still have to do something in advance to exercise their right to vote.”
If a student wishes to vote in Butler County, they must be registered 30 days before the election. The deadline to register for the March primary is Feb. 6 for all of Ohio.
“The most confusing thing is that March 6 is during Miami’s spring break, so many students won’t be here,” Burke said.
Another important aspect for students to remember when registering is that their addresses and information must be correctly filled out on the forms. Oftentimes when students move, their information becomes invalid and they cannot become registered, according to Prue Dana, member and leader of the Oxford League of Women’s Voters. Miami junior and intern for Off Campus Affairs Anne Strychalski said, “Our mission is really just to encourage the process of lifelong voting and to enhance civic engagement whether at home or in Oxford.”
There are many issues in Oxford that directly impact students’ lives and wallets, Strychalski said.
“The positives for voting at school … are being able to vote for things like off-campus housing, environmental issues, taxes and transportation,” Strychalski said. “They are all issues on the ballot that will definitely impact students.”
In regards as to how Miami plans to inform and help students become registered, Strychalski also said, “We’re trying different ways to reach different segments of students. We want to reach freshman coming in, we want to do skits at orientation so students and parents see the importance of it. Also, ‘Walk About,’ is an off-campus event that informs students about safety and what it is like to live off campus, so we may try to inform students there too.”
Targeting student organizations like College Republicans and Democrats and producing brochures to inform students about voting are other ways that the university would like to help students become registered to vote, according to Strychalski.
If students wish to become registered to vote locally for Butler County by the March 6 primary, they need to register by 9 p.m. Feb. 6.
Students can get a registration form from Talawanda High School, Lane Public Library, the Municipal Building on High Street or online from the Butler County Board of Elections website, although they must print the form off and send it in to the address indicated on the website, according to Burke.
Miami University sophomore Alexa Livadas said, “I definitely think it’s important to get registered to vote in the next year, especially with the presidential election coming up in the fall.”