​Ohio State joins Big Ten Voting Challenge to help boost student voting

The university faces off against 13 other schools in an effort to support civic engagement

By: Chris Booker

Published on September 27, 2017

Students at The Ohio State University are used to celebrating victories on the field over Michigan, Purdue and other universities in the Big Ten. Now they have a chance to do it at the ballot box.

Ohio State is competing in the Big Ten Voting Challenge and kicked off the campaign Tuesday on National Voter Registration Day. The goal of the non-partisan challenge is to mobilize registration and turnout efforts at all 14 Big Ten universities.

OSU Votes is one of the organizations leading the challenge to register students and get them to vote. Its members hosted events at the Oval and the Ohio Union this week.

“I thought it would be a good time to register and it would be more convenient to do it now,” said Mallory Ohlin, a first-year student from Warren, who registered to vote this week.

“I think that Ohio State students have a reputation for being intellectual. I think that we need to show that we’re involved and that we’re paying attention to what’s going on with the government,” Ohlin said.

The challenge runs through Nov. 6, 2018, and there’s a chance for bragging rights. Trophies are awarded to the university with the highest eligible voter turnout rate, and to the school with the most improved voter turnout when compared with 2014 voting data.

“I think the challenge is unique because all 14 presidents have made a concerted effort to engage their campus with the challenge,” said Alyssa Johnson, coordinator for service and outreach for student activities in the Office of Student Life. “It’s a unique way to use the competition the Big Ten has in general to foster more civic engagement for college campuses.”

Ohio allows online voter registration, and the OSU Votes website allows students to check their registration, sign up if they are not registered and get updates on upcoming elections.

Nathan Moses, a first-year student from Coshocton, learned of the voting drive through campus e-mail. He registered Tuesday and encouraged his peers to do the same.

“I believe in every person’s right to vote and no matter who they are, their voice should be heard,” he said.

Moses hopes Ohio State can finish ahead of the team up north in the voting challenge.

“I saw there was a competitive side to it. That wasn’t my first intention but I would like it if my school can get a win,” he said.

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