Ohio is considered one of the most important states in the 2012 presidential election, and a non-partisan group at Ohio State is working to educate students before they vote.
President Barack Obama has paid four visits to Ohio State in the past two years and is expected to return to Columbus Oct. 9, which coincides for the Ohio deadline for voter registration.
OSU Votes is the university’s non-partisan voter registration and education program that has been pushing students to register. Students can register at any residence hall front desk, in the Ohio Union, or online at the group’s website. OSU Votes looks to educate voters with opportunities to get non-partisan information from organization members or at the group’s many events.
“We are all about OSU’s motto: education for citizenship,” said co-chair of OSU Votes Alfred Yates, a fourth-year in mathematics and communication.
This organization started during the 2004 election and has been a part of Undergraduate Student Government and the John Glenn Civic Leadership Council. In May, the Office of Student Life approached Yates and asked him to help run the organization and promote non-partisan student involvement.
“I am looking to create a culture of civic engagement here at Ohio State,” Yates said.
On a day-to-day basis the organization gives presentations to different student groups, educates people on voting and registers students to vote. OSU Votes has registered more than 750 people to vote and started entering classrooms, at the request of professors, about two weeks ago to get students registered.
The group is comprised of 12 students who meet every Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Funding comes from USG and the Council of Graduate Students.
Kelsey Gallagher, a fourth-year in political science and the programming director for OSU Votes, emphasized the ease of registering to vote. The process can be completed on the website in minutes.
“I love working with OSU Votes because it gives students a non-partisan way to register and feel comfortable doing so,” Gallagher said.
The organization also makes efforts to ensure that people know what to expect on Election Day.
“Students should make sure they know everything they need on Election Day and they can find this on our website,” Gallagher said. Being registered is one thing, but showing up to the polls with the correct identification is something completely different.
OSU Votes worked with MTV to bring Rock the Vote, a campaign that uses popular culture and grassroots efforts to educate young people about the issues in the election, to campus Monday.
OSU Votes is not completely concentrated on registering voters, but instead, registering educated voters.
“Voters who are registered should pay attention to everything going on and be educated,” Yates said.
There will be a mock presidential debate in the U.S. Bank Conference Theater in the Ohio Union Tuesday at 7 p.m. In the event, which is co-sponsered by OSU Votes and the Politics, Society and Law Scholars, students will act as Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan and debate the issues surrounding the election.
Early voting also starts Tuesday, and Franklin County’s early voting station is at the Kohl’s on Morris Road. The time between when early voting starts and the deadline to register to vote on Oct. 9 is known as Golden Week. During Golden Week, people can register to vote and vote at the same time. However, Yates said this cannot be done on campus and can only be completed at an early voting station.
Election Day is Nov. 6, and about six weeks leading up to the election, Obama leads 49 percent in the polls against Romney, who is trailing with 45 percent, according to a Monday Gallup poll.