YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ten members of the Youngstown State University College Democrats are camping overnight Monday at the Mahoning County Board of Elections so they can be the first ones to cast their ballots early for the Nov. 4 election.
Tuesday is the first day for early voting in Ohio.
The students said they want to send a message to their peers that their vote matters and not just during a presidential election. Some have worked on political campaigns before, but sleeping at the Board of Elections is a first.
It was a team effort to pitch a tent in front of the early voting entrance at Oakhill Renaissance Place.
Dylan Edwards, a YSU freshman and member of the College Democrats, said he wants to see his generation become more active in the political process.
“I feel the best way to sort of combat that issue is to try and make the idea of getting out the vote fun,” Edwards said.
He thinks camping out at the board is one way to get his classmates’ attention, but it is just a start.
“We are going to have to do more work with getting more young people registered,” he said.
YSU College Democrats President Ernie Barkett said it is important for young people to be heard.
“We have a very big voice in the country and this is our future. I think it is very important that our generation should come out and vote,” Barkett said. “Policy really goes from the ground up. And if we have great state representatives, great U.S. representatives to represent us that can take our voices to the president, take our voice to the people who are higher in power, that is extremely important and the people that represent us at home are really our base.”
Early voting starts Tuesday at 8 a.m. Voters will get a paper absentee ballot, not vote electronically.
Board of Elections officials are not sure what to expect for early voting turnout.
“We don’t know whether we are going to get a big turnout or a smaller turnout. There is not a lot of interest in this election so far,” Mahoning County Board of Elections Director Joyce Kale Pesta said.
The biggest race this year is for Ohio governor. There also are numerous school and township levies, a library levy and two charter amendments in Youngstown.
The board said right now, it is at 14,000 absentee ballots and it expects 6,000 to 8,000 more.
“That is a little high for this year,” Pesta said.
Early voting ends at 2 p.m. Nov. 3, which is the day before the election. YSU College Democrats said early voting fits with their schedules and gives them more time to encourage other students to vote.