By: John Pocari – Staff Writer
The Ohio Democratic Party’s “Ohio Together” campaign buses rolled into UD’s campus Wednesday afternoon, transporting students to cast their presidential ballots early at the county board of elections downtown. Once aboard, ODP chairman David Pepper explained that Ohio’s early voting period, that began Oct. 12, is one of the most important and hectic phases of the election.
A look at the visiting bus’s schedule proves him right. It started the day transporting Ohio State students to early voting in Columbus, before heading to do the same in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and finally, Dayton. It’s one of several new buses the ODP has put into service over the past week, all with the goal of transporting as many young voters as possible to the polls. Over these final four weeks of the election, these buses will likely cover several hundred miles every day.
The buses are only one part of a broader push to reach out to as many voters as possible, especially young and undecided ones. Masses of volunteers, coordinators, media experts, and other workers have been deployed to interact with voters as well. With less than a month left until Election Day, poll numbers and candidates’ leads in critical swing states, such as Ohio, are still highly fluid.
Both the Republican and Democratic campaigns must find a way to sustain and build enthusiasm among both new and longtime supporters if they hope to win. Many Americans, especially young voters, feel unusually tired of what has been a brutal presidential race. The two parties fear that these voters will decide not to cast their ballot this year, because they see the current political system as divisive and degrading.
Despite this widespread cynicism, every student on the bus this Wednesday afternoon was excited to cast their vote. They were some of the first to do so in Dayton’s electoral district, which is hotly contested and could go either way come November 8. Elsewhere in the state, thousands of others were also casting ballots early in what has become a hallmark of Ohio voting.
Almost a third of Ohioans who have voted in recent elections have done so early, either by mail or in person. In many cases, early voting is a convenient option because voters are able to simply head to their county’s Board of Elections and cast a ballot at their leisure.
Once the students arrived at the Montgomery County Board of Elections, an escalator ride to the building’s basement brought students to the polls. Many were surprised by the scale of the early voting site, where dozens of machines and sign in tables ensured that wait times were kept short. A valid government photo ID, a few lines of information on a form, and a signature were all that was required to enter the main hall and vote.
Volunteers and staff from the Board of Elections were very helpful to the students, especially since this was the first time many of them had ever voted. Though most of the students were done voting and ready to re-board the bus within 10 minutes, the workers and volunteers were there until the early evening, and by the end of the day had helped one thousand people vote early.
These poll workers have a clear message for the young people and all voters in Montgomery County. They are ready. And they hope to see you on or before November 8.
Early voting began on October 12 in Montgomery County, and will continue daily until November 7, the day before the election. Students registered to vote at their campus address who wish to vote early should bring a photo ID or official piece of mail proving their address (such as a bank statement) with them. More information can be found here on the Montgomery County BOE’s website. Students can also vote on Election Day from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Holy Angels Catholic Church which is located at 1322 Brown Street.