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The OU College Democrats encourage students to register to vote outside Baker Center in October 2015. (FILE)

Ohio University students have until Tuesday to register to vote in the primaries

The deadline to register to vote in the primary election is fast approaching. 

With the 2016 primary election quickly approaching, the deadline for Ohio University students to register to vote in the March 15 election is approaching even faster.

The deadline to register to vote in this year's primary is Tuesday. Students and Athens residents can register at the Athens County Board of Elections at 15 S. Court St.

In primary elections, voters cast ballots to select candidates they want to represent their party in the general election. Voters are required to be at least 18 before or on the day of election, and to vote in Ohio, voters must have been a resident for at least 30 days before the election. 

This year will likely see higher voter registration rates in Athens County because it's a presidential election year. According to a 2014 U.S. Census Bureau analysis of presidential elections from 1964-2012, both voting and registration rates tend to be higher during presidential election years than congressional election years. 

Andrew Price, the communications director for the OU College Democrats, said the group oversaw the registration of more than 1,000 people so far. 

Numbers on voter registration from the Athens County Board of Elections show the number of registrations tend to be higher in presidential and gubernatorial election years. 

Athens County saw about 48,200 voters registered for the 2012 presidential primary, and the last gubernatorial election in 2014 pulled in about 43,900 registrations in the county for the primary, according to the Board of Elections.

But in 2011, when there was no presidential or gubernatorial election, 29,100 people in the registered to vote in the primaries. 

Voter turnout in the 2012 primary election, when there were no democratic primaries because President Barack Obama ran for a second term as the incumbent, was about 22.3 percent in Athens County, according to the Board of Elections. Turnout statewide was about 25.5 percent that year, according to the Ohio Secretary of State's website.

Voter registration was much higher the last time both major parties had a primary. In 2008, voter turnout was about 46 percent statewide.

Daisy Bentley, a freshman studying theater who recently registered to vote, said she plans on voting in the primaries because the presidential election is not just a matter of democrats versus republicans.

“I think its important to nominate the candidate in your party that you prefer,” Bentley said. 

Alyssa Stegmaier, a sophomore in communication studies, said she plans to register and vote in the primaries, although she isn't particularly excited about any of the candidates.

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"They're all pretty awful," Stegmaier said of the candidates. "It's been such a fascinating election to watch ... watching from a communications standpoint is interesting."

Tom Gaus, a freshman studying computer science, said he registered last year but does not plan to vote in this year's primary election. Gaus said he was unsatisfied with the candidates, who seemed to be too extreme on both sides.

 “I don't care about any of the candidates,” Gaus said.

Gaus is not alone. In 2012, the Census Bureau released a report on voting and registration in the Novemeber 2008 election. Among its findings was that 13 percent of people reported not voting because they didn't like the candidates or the campaign issues.


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