Student Voter Registration Campaign Yields Large Turnout

October 22, 2020

Yvonne Gay

A student counts sheets of paper.
Brigit Cann ’21, a student worker at the Science Center library, counts voter registration forms.
Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

After a registration campaign that included educational programming and department efforts, 1,432 students will exercise their new voting privileges starting with the presidential election in November. 

In an effort to bolster student participation OC Votes—a nonpartisan website that explores the issues important to the 2020 election—was launched by the Office of the Dean of Students. Through this platform students were informed of educational programming, local candidates, and ballot issues in Oberlin and in their home communities. The website provides a wealth of resources for students, including search tools to find polling locations and to check the status of absentee ballot registration; information on local candidates and ballot issues in Oberlin and students' home communities; and a calendar of events related to the election. Students who had not yet registered in Ohio were also encouraged to visit one of 12 voter registration stands placed around campus. And Yeo the Vote, a voting initiative by the Department of Athletics, had more than 400 student athletes register to vote.

Thanks to all of these efforts, Oberlin was recently awarded a $1,000 grant from Ohio's Campus Vote Project, according to Wayne Wood, director of Student Life Auxiliaries and Special Projects. Oberlin was one of only 12 colleges in Ohio to earn this award. The grant will allow the college to create further engagement efforts around OC Votes.

“I'm collaborating with colleagues from the Great Lakes Colleges Association on voting efforts and have been able to report that—thanks to our own students, staff, and faculty—we are leading the way among our peers in voter registration efforts and election engagement,” says Wood. “In spite of COVID-19 safety precautions, which have limited our ability to register students to vote in person and to hold in-person seminars and support sessions, our calendar is offering a robust series of events leading up to Election Day and after.”

Election Day watch parties, a faculty panel reflecting on results from election night, including any delay in results if the race has not been called, as well as community de-stressing sessions on Zoom, will be held shortly after votes are cast on November 3. 

“I am confident that the momentum created by OC Votes will last long after the election and will be a way to keep civics and service top-of-mind among the Oberlin community,” says Wood. 


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