All Voting is Local joined students from Central State and Wilberforce universities, Ohio’s two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to announce a year-long voter empowerment campaign to tackle barriers to voting for students.
The year-long campaign, CSWU Votes, launched during National Voter Registration Day events at Central State University, aims to tackle troubling findings revealed in a new report from the two voting rights groups, Needs Improvement: Barriers to the Ballot at Ohio’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.The report, based on an analysis of 2018 election data, revealed students at Ohio’s HBCUs had low rates of turnout, high provisional ballot rejection and voter registration problems.
“Voting problems are keeping students at Ohio’s HBCUs from having a voice in our elections. But thankfully these barriers are not insurmountable,” said Chynna Baldwin, Ohio Advocacy Manager for All Voting is Local. “With the full support of these historic universities, we can work together to remove obstacles to the ballot for college students who are eager to participate in our democracy.”
CSWU Votes aims to empower student voters to know their rights at the polls to ensure their voices will be heard. The campaign includes voter registration drives, training sessions to empower student leaders, movie screenings and game nights focused on how student advocates can strive to remove barriers to the ballot.
The campaign kicks off with Carnival Registration Drives today from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Wilberforce University, on the campus lawn outside the student center. Central State University students will meet at Norman E. Ward Center at 5 p.m. to walk over to Wilberforce University to participate.
Needs Improvement: Barriers to the Ballot at Ohio’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities analyzed data from the two HBCUs from 2018 and found:
- Turnout was low: Only 15 percent of registered voters in the precinct that services Central State University cast a ballot, while statewide that number exceeded 55 percent.
- College voters cast significantly more provisional ballots: At Central State, 46 percent of all votes cast were by provisional ballot, compared to 2 percent in Greene County.
- College voters’ provisional ballots were twice as likely to be rejected: Provisional voters at the precincts serving Central State and Wilberforce were at least twice as likely to have their ballots rejected than other provisional voters in Greene County.
- Registration issues were leading cause of provisional ballots: The most common reasons for a provisional ballot: a voter was not registered or the registration was not current. While this is generally true for counties throughout Ohio, a disproportionate number of people cast provisional ballots at the precincts serving Central State and Wilberforce because of registration issues.
The report notes that college students living on campus may not be aware they can register to vote where they go to school. They may be confused about the registration procedures, rules, and deadlines. The universities and county election officials must invest in voter education to tackle these problems. includes recommendations including:
- Streamline voter registration on campus
- Encourage students to serve as poll workers on Election Day
- Co-sponsor robust voter education program
- Ensure proper and complete training for poll workers on provisional ballots