Otterbein Student Organization Raise Your Voice Polls Well after 2020 Presidential Election
Posted Nov 10, 2021
By Payton Kaufman ’24
Coming off of a presidential-election year, Otterbein boosted student voter activity percentage and is being recognized for it. A report from the Institute of Democracy and Higher Education shows Otterbein voting on campus increase 12.3 percent in 2020 from 2016, to 74 percent.
The increase is a reflection of the accomplishments of Raise Your Voice – Otterbein’s non-partisan, student-run group – throughout recent years. Raise Your Voice is focused on voter education, engagement, and registration.
“Raise Your Voice provides education and support about voting,” Raise Your Voice co-leader, junior Lindsey Payton said. “As well as educating students about various aspects of political science and voting parameters within our campus.”
In 2020, Otterbein created a team motivated to register and educate student-voters, called VOTES. Raise Your Voice, along with VOTES, worked to improve student-athlete voter registration.
“We were able to see a 100% voter registration rate on nearly all of our athletic teams,” Raise Your Voice co-leader, junior Hannah Sturgeon said. “With the exception of two teams, which still had over 95% voter registration rates.”
As a result of their athletics outreach campaign, Raise your Voice won the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s 2021 Best Action Plan Award.
“Our work with both the Otterbein VOTES team, and the Athletic Department is the reason we were awarded the 2021 Best Action Plan Award,” Sturgeon said.
The achievements did not stop there for Raise Your Voice. Otterbein was named one of “America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting in 2021,” by Washington Monthly and a “Voter Friendly Campus,” by the Campus Vote Project.
“Students on our campus are beginning to realize that voting is a way that they can voice their opinions and needs to the government,” Payton said. “Students are realizing how much their voice matters.”
Due to an absence of a presidential election, Payton and Sturgeon are shifting their focus this year. In addition to continuing to educate students, they ensured students were registered for the Ohio general election.
“This semester we are working on educating people about what their local, elected officials do in their day-to-day life,” Sturgeon said. “We are continuing to educate people about what they are voting for.”
The Ohio Student Voting Coalition was established this summer, in addition to other new objectives. Its goal is to communicate with other universities about issues with voter registration among students.
“Students have to use their dorm address, rather than mailing address, in order to register to vote,” Sturgeon said. “Which makes registering much harder than it needs to be.”
“It’s not a problem with Otterbein, but a problem with the state,” Sturgeon said. “We can’t tackle it on our own, so the coalition was created to communicate with other campus on issues we are all facing.”