Not everyone listens to the call to vote, but as the last day of voter registration for the 2022 Midterms passed on Oct. 11, the choice to cast ballots lies in the hands of individuals who did.
On Nov. 8, registered voters will decide every seat in the House of Representatives, over half of the nation's governors and a little over one-third of seats in the Senate.
Ohio University is a designated "Voter Friendly Campus" as of 2021 and can keep that status from the Campus Vote Project by the Fair Election Center and NASPA– Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education through December 2022. OU's selection as a Voter Friendly Campus came from efforts to help students find ways to vote as well as break down challenges to accessing their political rights.
Students have been working to register their peers to vote within the university. Haley Janoski, a senior studying communication studies, has been an active member in the political sphere on campus throughout her college career. Janoski works as the campaign manager for Tanya Conrath's run for democratic state representative in Ohio's 94th district and said there are various ways people can vote this November.
"One, you can request an absentee ballot, and that is something you would receive in the mail from your board of elections," Janoski said. "If you're trying to vote at home still, but can't get back, that's why you would also request an absentee ballot."
People can request their ballot through the Ohio Secretary of State's website. Their county board of elections must receive it by noon on Nov. 5.
"If you live in Athens, you're able to go early vote in person at the board of elections on Court Street whenever the board's hours are open and during early voting times," Janoski said.
Early in-person voting starts Oct. 12 and ends Nov. 7. At the Athens County Board of Elections, starting on Wednesday, voters can stop by 15 S. Court in room 103 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to elect officials. The same times apply each week from Monday to Friday until Nov. 7.
And, of course, people can vote on the official Election Day.
"So Nov. 8, you can do that," Janoski said. "Depending on what precinct you're in, like Athens you may be at Baker. You could be at the Board of Elections. You could be at some churches."
The reasons citizens vote looks different for each individual, and some people have more personal reasons than others. But voting's importance remains constant among people's motives.
"It's the one institution we can have to make change," Janoski said. "Of course, there's some things that happen within the systems like gerrymandering, just general corruption that occurs too, but it's like the one opportunity and chance that we have to make our voice heard."
Maddy Smith, a sophomore studying marketing, said the 2022 midterm election would be her first time voting. She said voting, in general, is necessary for policy-makers to make decisions.
"I think voting is really important just because I feel like not enough people do," Smith said. "And to make a decision, you need everyone's input."
There are specific voters, such as Lucy Lutman, a sophomore studying biology, who want to show their care for issues that affect women. Lutman said voting could shift influence into the hands of people who care about similar issues.
"I think it definitely affects a lot when people don't vote," Lutman said. "It's important, but I feel like a lot of people don't think it really matters."
Janoski said college towns could be overlooked in electoral politics and state races because they consider student populations unreliable voters.
"We're not exactly like that," Janoski said. "So if you really want your vote to count, vote in your college town because it's overlooked and your vote has power there."
A record percentage of students registered and voted in the 2020 presidential election. The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education found a 66% student voter rate in 2020 and an 83% registration rate through their national study of colleges and universities.
Student votes impact local, state and national politics. Janoski said students should not be afraid to vote in Athens if the individual is registered to vote in the county because what happens locally still affects students who attend OU and live in Athens– even if it's for a short period.
"You live here for the time being, and the policies and ordinances and candidates that represent this area affect you," Janoski said. "And I think you should influence that with your own thoughts. I also think that … how you vote affects the people who come after you. So I think if you want to vote in Athens, if you have any thoughts about not voting in Athens, still do it."