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Government and Politics

Campus voter registration under scrutiny
Students fail to show up on voter rolls.
This story is part of a special series.

Mark Urycki
President Obama asked Kent State students to register and vote in September.
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In The Region:
This week’s election in Ohio was clear enough that agonizing re-counts are not necessary.  But a few irregularities are raising suspicions of voter scams.   WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports one drawing attention is at Kent State University
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President Obama knew when he came to Kent State in September that getting students registered to vote would likely mean more votes for himself.

But Tuesday poll workers started hearing complaints from students who said they had registered but weren’t on the county list.   Poll worker Evan Gildenblatt

“I was getting reports from other precincts of students who were registered to vote were being told they were not on the voter registries and were either being turned away or forced to cast provisional ballots. “

Gildenblatt is the Executive Director of the Undergraduate Student Government and says they would register students,  the campus Democrats and Republicans would register them, and students could drop off forms at the library.   But it’s not clear who, if anyone , registered these students…

“We’re getting reports of middle-aged men, seemingly not students, although un-confirmable at this time, going around and registering students to vote or supposedly registering students to vote.”

Similar complaints cropped up on Election Day at Central State University in Wilberforce.  Dayton Attorney Ellis Jacobs was overseeing volunteer poll observers for a non-partisan group called Election Protection when they got more complaints that unusual. 

“A number of students showed up thinking they were registered to vote only to be told they were not on the registration roll.  We’re not yet sure why that happened and we’re in the process of trying to figure this out but it was a significant number of students.”

Jacobs said the number was at least 20 students but could have been far more.     Ohio State was rumored to have the same problem but the Deputy Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, Dana Welch says so far they have heard of only one such complaint.

Brad Cromes of the Portage County Board of Elections says this kind of thing is not unheard of. 

There was the story in Virginia where someone was registering voters and throwing the registrations away.  It’s currently be prosecuted in that state.”

Should registrations be limited to the Board of Elections?

“That would be something that would have to happen with the state legislature and I know they are fully intending on taking on some election law bills.”

But Restricting registration might harm the very people who are most easily targeted in registration scams – the young and the elderly.  Attorney Ellis Jacobs does not want to make it more strict.

“Registration drives are a time-honored way to get people who don’t have the initiative to go to the Board of Elections to get them registered.”

Right now Jacobs Election Protection organization is investigating the incidents at Central State to  determine exactly how and where those students registered.

Listener Comments:

As the Kent State College Democrats Communications Director, we registered over 3000 students during 2012's Spring and Fall semesters. Our protocol was to have the student fill out the form, verify that they filled everything out correctly, inform them that they would receive a card in the mail with their registration, and turn the forms into the University Library (which manages a large voter registration drive itself). All of our people registering voters were other students, and the same protocol was followed with every student. Only one student came to us and informed us that she never received her card in the mail, and we re-registered her.

Posted by: Jacob Green (Kent, Ohio) on November 8, 2012 12:11PM
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