By Dom Fonce
On Tuesday, Youngstown State University will see several voter registration tables set up in support of National Voter Registration Day.
Organizations have already been on campus asking students to register for the better part of late August and early September. Now that the 22nd is closing in, the campus will see more student involvement in encouraging voter registration tables.
Organizations like the Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, the YSU College Democrats and the YSU College Conservatives will be working to get young adults registered this Tuesday.
Sojourn to the Past is an organization that takes Youngstown City School students to the south to learn first-hand about the Civil Rights Movement.
Penny Wells, the organization’s director, said that each year, students come back to Youngstown with action plans — one of those being to run registration tables at YSU and in the Youngstown City Schools.
“Our members working at YSU were once Youngstown City School students; now they’re all YSU students. They feel the need to bring awareness to their fellow students on voting registration,” Wells said.
Sarina Chatman, a sophomore telecommunications major at YSU, is a member of Sojourn to the Past who will be working the registration tables.
She said that it would surprise people how little she was taught about the civil rights movement and voting while attending a public high school in Youngstown.
“People, especially African Americans, should not take this opportunity to vote for granted,” Chatman said. “It was something our ancestors fought to have the right to do, and I’m glad to have learned that first hand.”
Ernie Barkett, president of the YSU College Democrats, said he has plans for his club on Tuesday.
“College Democrats of Ohio is having an enormous ‘Get Out The Vote’ campaign where all 34 of our chapters will be hosting voter registration drives all week,” Barkett said.
The College Democrats will have tables set up around campus.
Chad Limbruner, president of the College Conservatives, said his organization will miss National Voter Registration Day, but they are gearing up for a registration drive with a host of other conservative organizations, before the registration deadline of Oct. 5th.
“It is extremely important to be registered to vote,” Limbruner said. “It keeps our communities moving. In fact, I think off-year elections, with primarily local candidates, are most important.”
Limbruner said that young adults tend to not realize how local government affects them.
“Typically, young people only think to vote in a presidential election year, if at all, but that thought process has these students missing an opportunity to elect individuals that more directly govern them,” Limbruner said.
Both Limbruner and Barkett said students should be registering and voting in elections.
“Voting is extremely important,” Barkett said. “If we as college students continue to not vote and continue to be absent from the political process, our representatives in both state and national government will continue to ignore our wants and needs as citizens.”
Limbruner had a request for students who don’t participate in the political process.
“I think unregistered students should spend maybe 20 minutes, just once, reading political headlines,” Limbruner said. “I think they’ll find something they’re passionate about that they didn’t realize was a political issue at all. The key is getting involved and taking the first step.”