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Athens County Board of Elections office at 15 S Court St. in Athens, Ohio.

Voter registration numbers remain similar to 2020 rates despite registration efforts at OU

Voter registration numbers are close to the same as 2020 even with several members of the Athens community and Ohio University helping people register before the general election. 

Recently, groups advocating for student voter registration have become apparent at OU. On campus, there have been tables set up, as well as students standing outside highly-populated areas to help members of the OU community register to vote for the general election taking place Nov. 2.

According to the Athens County Board of Elections website, voter registration is about the same this year with 38,960 people registered to vote in the upcoming elections. The deadline to register was Oct. 4 at 9 p.m., Tony Brooks, deputy director of the Athens County Board of Elections, said.

As of last year, there were 39,342 registered voters in Athens and 25,100 total ballots cast, according to a previous Post report. Voter turnout was down 3% in Athens from the 2016 presidential election during 2020. During that time, student involvement was also low due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With the general election approaching, some feel there is pressure to register to vote now more than ever, especially students. 

Molly Pennington, a sophomore studying communication sciences and disorders, was one of several students helping others register to vote via tabling outside of College Green.

“Voter turnout, as far as student populations in Athens go, is historically really low, and I think some of that is due to voter registration, and students not being registered to vote,” Pennington said. “I think it’s really important that students know that they have this option to get involved in their community and really get engaged with the people who are making decisions for them.”

Pennington said they helped people change their addresses and handed out information for mail-in voting.

Student Senate previously met Sept. 29 to pass a resolution asking the university to make Election Day a paid university holiday and boost registration numbers among students, according to a previous Post report

“OU students make up most of the population of Athens so … the OU students have such a big impact on what goes on,” Maddie James, a sophomore studying visual communication and history, said. 

James recalled how easy it was to register to vote and believes registration is accessible in the community. 

“I think Pumpkin (the cat) kind of helps voter registration in Athens, especially with the students,” James said. “It brings people to the registration office … it’s not hard to register.”


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