Politics can affect cities in an extremely direct way. The mayor, city council, ordinances and laws affect everyone, even in the most benign ways. But for those who want a say in what goes on in Athens, they can vote.  

The Ohio primary is March 17, St. Patrick's Day. However, the deadline to register to vote is soon on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Those who are still not yet registered are in luck, because there are plenty of options and convenient opportunities around town.

One option for voter registration is at the Board of Elections, 15 S. Court St., where people can stop by Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Another Uptown option is the Athens County Democratic Party headquarters, 74 E. State St.

“We do voter registration every day at the office,” Andrea Reik, volunteer at the Athens County Democratic Party office, said.

People can stop by the ACDP headquarters Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., to register to vote, as well as request absentee ballots and change their registered address.

The ACDP has been active in voting awareness, Reik added. Volunteers have been calling and notifying voters of registration deadlines, which are earlier than usual this year.

“We’re realizing a lot of people don't realize the primary is this quick – it’s early this year, they think of it as May,” Reik said.

For Reik, this is an important election year and mobilizing voters is an important part of it. This Saturday, the ACDP is partnering with the Ohio Democratic Party to register voters all across Athens. 

“We’re trying to get out there,” Reik said. “This is a really important election year. With the primary moved, so many people are not aware.”

People will be able to register at Athens County public library branches, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the indoor Athens Farmers Market at the Athens Mall, 1002 E. State St., The Village Bakery & Cafe, 268 E. State St. and College Gate.

“We’re gonna be out there to give people the opportunity to register,” Reik said.

Beyond the city of Athens, people who want to register to vote can register at one of seven branches of the Athens County Public Libraries System. Other branches are located in Nelsonville, Chauncey, Coolville, Glouster, The Plains and Albany.

Only a few people register to vote at the Athens Public Library, Amy Drayer, branch manager of the Athens Public Library, explained. 

“We don’t get as many (people to register to vote) as we’d like,” Drayer said. “I don’t know if people think to come to a library to register to vote, but we do get a few.”

For Drayer, voting is something everyone should be involved in.

“People need to register to vote,” Drayer said. “Even if it’s for local elections or national, it’s a great thing we get to do.”

Registering to vote can be fun, DJ Barticus, a local DJ, said. Sometimes voter registration even calls for celebration.

Gyration Nation was a dance party featuring Barticus last Thursday, Feb. 6 at The Union Bar & Grill, 18 W Union St. The point was to raise awareness about the deadline to register to vote, Barticus explained.

“We had people on hand registering voters and they said it went very well,” Barticus said.

The event was an enjoyable opportunity for those enjoying a night off to also register to vote. 

“It’s a good thing to do at night at events where a lot of people are,” Barticus said. “It was a fun crowd.”

People of all ages came out to Gyration Nation, Barticus added. It was a mix of music and people coming together.

Barticus has dabbled in local politics himself and encourages young people and students to make their voice known by voting. Barticus thinks students should register because they make up a large portion of Athens. 

“If they want to say something — for their voice to be heard — they should register.”

There are other voter registration deadlines: July 6 for the Aug. 4, special election, as well as Oct. 5 for the Nov. 3 general election. Aside from many in-person options, Ohio residents can also register to vote online.

@_kerijohnson

kj153517@ohio.edu