Voter Registration Deadline Approaches
Though the springtime warmth generally associated with political primaries may be just out of reach, Oberlin students have only two weeks to register to vote in this year’s primary election. The deadline for the upcoming May 2 primaries is April 2, which falls at the end of Oberlin’s spring break.
Oberlin’s two competing student-run political groups, OC Republicans and OC Democrats, are currently urging students to register before leaving town. Students can register to vote without having to commit to one party.
This year’s elections feature potentially competitive races for one of Ohio’s two U.S. Senate seats, the Ohio governorship and the Ohio Senate. Local democrats are particularly animated in support of their candidates for these positions.
Sherrod Brown, who is running for U.S. Senate, has received support and organized aid from Oberlin students. Brown is running unopposed in the primary race and will face incumbent republican Mike DeWine in the November election.
The OC Dems have taken a leading role in mobilizing students. Group members spent last week registering students in Wilder.
College junior Charlie Sohne, co-chair of the OC Dems, cited the Senate race as more than worthy of students’ attention.
“For a non-presidential year, this is as big as it gets,” he said.
For the governorship, Ted Strickland (D) will most likely match up against Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (R).
The current governor Bob Taft (R) is not able to seek reelection because of term limits.
In the Ohio Senate, Democrat Sue Morano, backed by the Service Employees International Union, is vying for the 13th District seat currently held by Republican Jeffry Armbruster. Armbruster also cannot seek reelection because of term limits. Democrats see this opening as fortuitous.
“For the first time in a while we can take that seat,” said Sohne.
Politically active students cited youth apathy as a glaring obstacle in today’s political process.
“It’s discouraging that young people don’t feel that they have the civic responsibility or the vested interest to go out on election day and cast their votes,” said Jonathan Bruno, president of the OC Republicans.
Bruno mentioned social security as an issue considered more by older adults that affects students more than they think. He said that the Bush administration is working toward instituting private retirement accounts for citizens instead of the social security system currently in place.
“Current students are going to be the ones who are left out to dry when they take their retirements,” he said.
Both Bruno and Sohne also identified the federal government’s funding cuts for student loans as an issue that affects the lives of students. Bruno tied that concept into the US’s struggling finances.
“Current students in the midst of making this huge investment in their education should care about the economy,” he said.
Both groups articulated confidence in Oberlin students’ political vigor.
“I don’t know that Oberlin students need motivation to get politically active,” said Sohne. “If anything, it’s convincing them that electoral politics, change and voting is worth it.”
Sohne added that college sophomore Colin Koffel of the OC Dems is recruiting students to be poll watchers for the upcoming primary. Outdated election polling assistance was a large part of the problem last time, Sohne said, as poll watchers had held their jobs for years without really knowing what they were doing.
“If you want to have a say in anything, you need to get
involved,” Sohne concluded. “The 2006 elections are a perfect
opportunity to do that.”