The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News February 8, 2008

Super Tuesday Inspires Obie Action
Getting out the Vote The OC Dems register students to vote in Ohio’s Presidential Primary.

As the dust settled and 24 states and American Samoa tallied the results of their primaries and caucuses, it became clear that while this year’s Super Tuesday included the most states — many delegate rich — in U.S. history, it provided no clear winners for either party although Mitt Romney has since withdrawn from the race. The influence of states with later primaries, such as Ohio, will come into play.

The importance of Super Tuesday, according to Professor of Politics Michael Parkin, is that it allows voters to “see the bigger picture.” Unlike the much-hyped contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, Super Tuesday represents a much broader cross-section of American voters.

The Ohio legislature tried unsuccessfully last year to move the primary to an earlier date based on fears that Ohio would be, in practical terms, excluded from the nomination race. “In every other election…Ohio didn’t matter,” Parkin said.

However, many pundits have pointed out that this year, the nominees will not have been decided by the time Ohio voters cast their ballots.

“Ohio will be very important,” emphasized Professor of Politics Ronald Kahn, who specializes in American politics.

With Super Tuesday in every headline and the Ohio primary still a month away, it is easy for Obies to feel left out of the election rush. Although Ohioans do not vote until March 4, the Oberlin community had an opportunity Monday to get into election fever as a non-partisan collaboration of students and Lorain County election officials ran a table for 11th hour voter registration.

Monday was the last day Ohio voters were able to register for next month’s primary, so College seniors Namrata Kolachalam and Colin Koffel sat patiently at a table in Wilder from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., registering voters and fielding questions from voters bewildered by Ohio’s voting requirements. Due to a 2006 change in Ohio’s voting laws, all voters must show either a valid Ohio driver’s license or a document as proof of their address. Since the vast majority of Oberlin students live in dorms or co-ops but receive mail at their OCMR, providing proof of residence becomes difficult.

Kolachalam and Koffels’ solution is absentee voting. “[The new laws] make it more complicated for students, so our way of getting around that is absentee ballots,” Kolachalam said. “It’s been pretty successful so far.”

Lorain County Board of Elections clerk Debra McAfee was also on hand “to help the students here register to vote, to make sure that everything is done correctly and that there are no mistakes.” McAfee pointed out to students who were updating their registrations that they must write their physical street address in one section of the registration form and their OCMR address in another.

Around the country, organizers tried to get college age voters out to the polls. Sujatha Jahagirdar, program director for OhioPIRG’s New Voters Project, said on the eve of Super Tuesday that her organization was planning on sending out 20,000 text messages to the cell phones of young voters in Super Tuesday states. The nonpartisan text messages are part of a national effort of student PIRGs “to increase the number of young people that turn out.” Based on a study state PIRGs conducted, Jahagirdar hopes the text messaging will boost young voter turnout by four percent.

An old adage states that the road to the White House runs through Ohio. Starting March 4, voters will see if that holds true.


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