Bowling Green State U.'s Student Government Registers Record-breaking Number Of Voters

This story was written by Elizabeth Hartman, The BG News


A voter registration campaign headed by Bowling Green State University's Undergraduate Student Government registered a record-setting 4,500 students in Wood County since the summer months.

During the course of the summer and fall semester, USG headed a campaign with Graduate Student Senate, College Democrats, College Republicans and Progressive Future, among others, to register as many students as possible in Wood County.

Deputy Director of Wood County Board of Elections Debbie Hazard said, "Although the Board of Elections is not active in voter registration drives, special interest groups are very active."

Board of Elections supplies information through press releases, its Web site and office resources, she said.

Hazard's office supplied USG with all the information needed to register voters.

"The state-wide voter registration goal was to register 20,000 students, but it was well surpassed and Bowling Green registered over 4,500 students," said USG President John Waynick.

The campaign targeted students through numerous strategies. During the summer, USG's campaigning efforts resulted in 1,000 student registrations. This segued into their fall semester's efforts including sending all on-campus students and 3,200 off-campus students voting information. Forty-five classroom presentations were held, as well as canvassing on campus and registration at union tables for two weeks.

"The class presentation was the most successful strategy because the speaker could engage with students effectively and then immediately present them registration," Waynick said.

Senior Nick Matthews was aware of USG's efforts and contributed in voter registration efforts through his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.'s voter drive "Voteless People are Hopeless People."

Everyone he knows has registered to vote and many have already done so.

"This is a groundbreaking election and if I did not think my vote would count, I would not have put as much energy into encouraging others to vote," Matthews said.

Besides registering students, Waynick explained a third of USG's registration campaign energy went to informing out-of-county students that they are able to register and vote in Wood County. Many students, including senior Ron Henderson, did not know that was a possibility until recently.

Although Henderson already voted absentee, he said he would have registered in Wood county if he had known.

Sophomore Ashley Watson, a Chicago native, learned she could register in Wood county through various campus organizations.

"Ohio is a swing state and I hope that extra votes from students from other states can help the vote swing more in a certain direction," she said.

Waynick feels that students' votes in this area of the state are especially important after all the major election-related events on campus recently.

"It's evidential with all the political attention our corner of the state has receivedfrom ABC's Charlie Gibson's student interview, to Sarah Palin's and Joe Biden's last minute visits," Waynick said.

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