If you think football is the only way to compete with Big Ten rivals this fall, think again. The Big Ten Voting Challenge is awarding the Big Ten schools with the highest voter turnout rate, and OSU Votes ambassadors are determined to see Ohio State prevail.
National Voter Registration Day was on Tuesday, but due to rainy weather Tuesday OSU Votes ambassadors gathered on campus Thursday in a voter registration drive to sign students up to vote before registration closes on Oct. 9.
“This is our National Voter Registration Day event so we’re just trying to encourage people to vote, answer any questions they have and give people as much information as we can about the voting process,” said James Taylor, director of programming for OSU Votes and a third-year political science and international studies student.
Ambassadors gathered on the Oval, South Oval and outside of Scott Traditions from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. equipped with voter registration forms, buttons and dogs. The ambassadors registered 40 Thursday and 69 total this week.
Part of the Office of Student Life, OSU Votes helped Ohio State become nationally recognized in achieving a “Voter Friendly Campus” for the 2017-2018 year.
“We are completely non-partisan, non-ideological, no politics involved,” says Walker said. “We simply educate, encourage and register people to vote on campus.”
OSU Votes is hopeful its efforts and the Big Ten Challenge will result in an increase in voter turnout in this year’s midterms for students. In the 2014 midterm elections, only 14.5 percent of eligible Ohio State students voted according to a press release from OSU Votes.
“We’re really keen on increasing our voter turnout this year due to the Big Ten Challenge,” said Emma Walker, director of marketing for OSU Votes and a second-year marketing student. “We’re really excited and hoping this event allows us to connect with students on campus in a greater fashion.”
The challenge involves all 14 Big Ten schools and will award the school with the highest voter turnout rate and the school with the greatest improvement of turnout. The letter announcing the challenge was signed by every Big Ten president or chancellor in September 2017.
“The Big Ten Voting Challenge will help to mobilize registration and turnout efforts at all 14 of our universities,” the letter read. “Voting in elections gives our students a voice in the democratic process and in the decisions that affect local, state and national issues.”
Despite the competition at hand, OSU Votes maintains its primary goal to register, educate and encourage other students to vote and become civically engaged.
“We’re hoping to win and beat that ‘Team Up North,’ of course,” Walker said. “It’s really a great way for us to connect with students on a competitive level while also understanding that our main goal shouldn’t just be to win. You should care. You should care about why you’re voting.”