As Nov. 6 draws near, OU Republican and Democratic student campaigners are busy preparing for the midterm elections.
The Ohio University College Democrats were initially focused on getting people registered to vote, according to Bailey Williams, the president of OUCD. Meanwhile, the Ohio University College Republicans are focusing their time on phone banking.
Only 100 fewer people registered to vote in Athens County for the elections this year compared to 2016, which is great for a midterm year, Williams said.
Ever since the voter registration date passed Oct. 9, OUCD has been focusing on making sure voters are aware of the Democrats’ political standing, Williams said. One of the main selling points is that if people vote early, then OUCD will not continue to canvass voters.
Something that OUCD has not had to worry about is the cost of campaigning. That’s because the Ohio Democratic Party pays for most of what they use, Williams said.
“The Ohio Democratic Party pays for a lot of stuff that we need,” Williams said. “They paid for burner phones for phone banking. They paid for a lot of campaign literature that we use while canvassing.”
OUCD is not focusing on having any events to get people to vote. It is a grassroots operation, Williams said, and they are talking to ask many people as they can.
There are about 30 active volunteers who are helping OUCD canvass and phone bank, according to Williams. The volunteers are working a minimum of 10 hours a week.
On Sunday, Kailee Missler, the communications director of OUCD and a sophomore studying strategic communications, and Charles Fessler-Krebs, a volunteer and sophomore studying communications, went canvassing in Athens.
They asked which residents will be voting in the upcoming midterm. The houses were chosen based on past voting history and the location that they are registered to vote.
When OUCD canvasses, it’s not to try to polarize voters, Missler said — they’re just looking at what to expect to see in the polls.
“I hate that people make politics so life or death,” Fessler-Krebs said.
Something that OUCD is pushing for is early voting, according to Missler. Despite that, most of the people they spoke to said that they planned to vote on Election Day. There can be problems that arise when waiting to vote on Election Day, Missler said.
While OUCD is focusing on door-knocking, OUCR is focused on phone banking.
The Ohio Republican Party has two call centers in the state — the larger one in Columbus and a smaller one in Athens. The center in Athens has been efficient when it comes to the number of calls made. During the past two weeks, there hasn’t been a day that the center has not hit 10,000 calls, Cole Neuhart, the political director for OUCR, said.
“Our call center in little Athens, Ohio, is outperforming (the Columbus center) by about 40,000 calls,” Neuhart said. “I think that we are about 40,000 or 60,000 calls away from 300,000 total calls.”
Of the people who answer the phone, Neuhart said about 70 percent will say that they are busy, around 20 percent will answer the questions posed, and 10 percent or fewer will be rude.
In past years, OUCR has had a more balanced focus on phone-banking and going door-to-door. That is because OUCR is working at one of the two call centers in the state, Neuhart said.
The call center contacts residents across the state. When calling, the volunteers ask who the person plans on voting for in a particular election.
“Being in as rural of an area as Athens, it is hard to make voter contact when knocking (on) doors,” Neuhart said.