Em-URGE-ing Voices

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Why Ohio Needs to Keep Golden Week

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February 24, 2014

Ah, yes, as an Ohioan, I’ll never forget the first Election season and Golden Week where I could legally vote. What a magical time, literally full of giant buses and go-karts on my campus shipping us off to the polls and college students clutching their voter registration forms on clipboards. We were all fresh-faced from a candidate visit and ready to engage our fellow students about voting.

You see, voting in Ohio is really funny. That’s if you find constant 24/7 political advertisements hysterical, or you somehow find it amusing that candidates from both sides of the fence practically live here from all of the visits (with both the Obama and Romney family visiting each 30 times in four months). Ohio is also famous for Golden Week.

So what exactly is this Golden Week?

Golden Week is when voters can register and vote in the same day. In fact, 59,000 people took advantage of this in 2012. As it has been noted, the people who take advantage of early voting tend to be elderly, low income, college students, single mothers, and others who can’t stand in line for five hours on Election Day. It’s also important to mention that many of the marginalized groups that aren’t documented among those who are disenfranchised by our depressing voting system, such as trans* folks, who also benefit from early voting.

Golden Week is currently being attacked by politicians, and is about to be eliminated by Governor Kaisch. It’s an obvious attempt to disenfranchise people of color, low income, young people, and other folks who do not have access to resources, with a veiled attempt to eliminate false “voter fraud.”

Golden Week is particularly important in Wood County, where I have resided almost my entire life. Wood County is a mostly rural and suburban area just outside of Toledo. But why is Wood County so relevant to a random person on the internet?

According to the Business Insider, we don’t “pick parties, but winners.” We’ve been picking the winners since 1980, a swing county in a swing state. Seriously, Wood County’s track record is incredible.

Most importantly, my school – Bowling Green State University – is the center of the county, and just a few blocks away from the place where early voting takes place, creating ample opportunity for students to walk and vote during early voting.

Golden Week is a symbol of how our system should be – incredibly accessible voting. You register and you vote in the same day. It’s so simple that it’s almost laughable how fixed our system is in order to eliminate votes from marginalized groups. What our ultimate, and perhaps radical goal, is to make Golden Week more than a week, but to make it a protected, permanent part of our elections.

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