A blunder at a voting registration drive organized by Associated Student Government (ASG) in late September kept six students from voting Nov. 4.
One of the students was sophomore Lucas Frazier, a resident assistant (RA) in Havighurst Hall.
“I went up to the table, there were two people there (that are in ASG) … obviously I looked over my (voter registration form) like it was the most important thing in my life … they looked over it, said, ‘Yep, you’re good,'” he said. “Last week, I got an e-mail from another RA in my building who said that two of her residents had come to her, finding out they weren’t registered to vote … I called up the Butler County Board of Elections, and they had never heard of me.”
Frazier said he knew of five students other than himself who attended the ASG registration drive that also did not successfully register for the election. Frazier spent part of Election Day expressing his dismay at the Hub wearing a sign reading “I can’t vote because of ASG.”
Courtney Cochran, vice president of the student body, organized the two-day registration drive, with volunteer help coming from College Democrats and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. Cochran said College Republicans denied multiple invitations to volunteer at the voting drive.
“We told (ASG volunteers) what needed to be done on the voter registration form, but we didn’t alert them to the mistakes that are commonly made on voter registration forms,” she said.
Cochran said common student registration mistakes include stating a residence hall room as an address or mistaking the signature date for a birth date.
Frazier said he made the mistake of putting his room in Havighurst as his address, instead of the actual street address of Havighurst on Western College Drive.
Cochran said she personally looked at the voter registration forms ASG handled at the drive, which totaled between 24 and 26, before handing them off to a College Democrats liaison who delivered the forms to the Butler County Board of Elections office.
“I know that (Frazier) is really, really upset and that’s totally understandable,” she said. “I will take responsibility for this.”
Cochran said she has been proactive in the wake of the botched voter forms by making Frazier aware of his option to cast a provisional ballot, and by taking steps to ensure that whoever is in her position in four years will catch errors on voter registration forms.
Provisional voting is a procedure guaranteed by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to allow voters with questionable eligibility to vote.
However, their results are not counted for 10 days after Election Day while voter eligibility is determined, if they are counted at all. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least 1.9 million provisional votes were cast in the 2004 election, but 676,000 were never counted.
Cochran said that a hired consultant from the Ohio Student Government Association prepared ASG for the voter drive, however she said that the consultant focused primarily on how to create high turnout for the planned drive, instead of combing registration forms for legitimacy.
College Democrats co-president Aaron Turner said his organization is not to blame for the denied registration forms.
“I am very confident that if a mistake was made, it wasn’t our part,” he said. “We walked through our volunteers like we were walked through by the (Obama) campaign.”
Turner said that College Democrats were under the assumption that the registration forms they received from ASG had already been looked over for errors.
While the margin of victory for President-elect Barack Obama was more than 200,000 votes in Ohio, the students’ six votes could play a larger role in local issues like the Talawanda High School levy. The levy issue has yet to be determined. There is a margin of a few hundred votes between supporters and opponents, and absentee and provisional ballots are being tallied.