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Ohio Northern University earns ‘Voter Friendly Campus’ designation

National organizations are recognizing Ohio Northern University’s efforts to encourage students to vote.

Led by Institute for Civic and Public Policy’s (ICAPP) campus voting initiatives, the work has resulted in ONU’s designation as a Voter Friendly Campus, a fourth annual program led by national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. ICAPP student Fellows, led by institute director and political science professor Robert Alexander, Ph.D., worked with organizers to set goals, submit a statement of interest, form a coalition, draft an action plan.

“Your institution’s efforts, even during a non-national election year, to break down barriers and empower students with the information and tools they need to participate in the political process led to tremendous youth voter turnout and opened the door to lifelong civic engagement for your students,” the Voter Friendly Campus team wrote.

Additionally, Livonia, Michigan native Nicholas Maccani, an ONU junior majoring in political science and Campus Vote Project Democracy Fellow, was one of 175 college students across the nation named to ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s 2023 ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll, which showcases students doing outstanding work to advance nonpartisan democratic engagement at participating campuses. This honor roll recognized students for their voter registration, education and turnout efforts ahead of last year’s historic midterm elections.

“The 2022 midterm elections saw one of the highest youth turnout rates for a midterm election in the past 40 years — an estimated 23 percent of young people ages 18 to 29 turned out to vote,” ALL IN noted.

“These students organized voter registration drives, coordinated campus-wide voter engagement resources and brought polling locations to their campuses,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus democracy challenge. “We are excited to watch these students continue to change the world.”

Maccani “was instrumental in helping us gain that designation,” said Alexander. “He and Matthew Petrella are both CVP fellows and meet weekly with our ICAPP team to carry out these initiatives.”

“With ONU now being considered a voter friendly campus, it indicates that we have worked with a wide variety of student and campus organizations at Ohio Northern in order to make voting easy and accessible to all ONU students,” said Maccani. “This designation was only received by 20 other schools in Ohio, and about 300 schools nationwide. This indicates that we have put in a lot of effort with our efforts with Campus Vote Project to make voting easy for all.” 

By working with Campus Vote Project since January 2022, and with CVP grant assistance, several voter campus registration and education events were offered during Welcome Fest, Voter Registration week and later in the semester. The events also strived to “clear up any misconceptions and clarifications on voting laws, where they can vote, how to register for an absentee ballot, etc,” said Maccani. Turnout was excellent, with hundreds of ONU students registering to vote, he noted.