Two representatives from the Ohio Republican Party visited Franciscan University of Steubenville Jan. 25 to speak about election integrity and student involvement in elections.
Fiona Ruminski, regional director, and Brooke Bihlman, director of election integrity, said they encourage students to get involved in preserving the integrity of local and national elections.
Bihlman spoke first on the right to vote, stressing that the right to vote applies not just on the national level, but on a local level as well. She said all people have the right to vote regardless of political party.
Bihlman said ways to get involved include being poll workers and poll observers. She explained the differences between the two, citing the legal restrictions that face poll observers.
While poll workers are compensated for their time and interact with voters and aid them, poll observers are volunteer workers and cannot legally interact with voters.
Poll observers watch the process and ensure that the laws are being followed. Observers alert officials to issues they might not have known about otherwise.
Bihlman explained that there are five types of poll observers.
Logic and accuracy observers watch the testing of the voting machines to ensure they are functional before the election.
Early vote process observers watch early vote and absentee ballot voting.
Dropbox observers keep watch over dropboxes. Dropboxes are locations where citizens can deliver their votes and are targets for ballot harvesting, said Bihlman. Ballot harvesting occurs when someone collects and delivers others’ votes instead of them being submitted by the voter.
Election day observers watch in-person voting, and post-election observers watch any recount or audit attempts. Bihlman said Ohio conducts an audit for every election, which helps ensure election integrity.
Bihlman said that there is much misinformation being spread about election integrity and that the best way to combat this misinformation is to get involved and see first-hand the accountability.
Ruminski spoke next about her job contacting voters. Ruminski said speaking with voters makes them 6% more likely to vote. The organization goes door-to-door, makes calls and uses a questionnaire app to reach out to voters.
Ruminski emphasized the role that Franciscan students play in local politics. Franciscan has a 20% impact on the local economy, and two new members of the city council have links to Franciscan.
The event ended with senior Alex McKenna, president of Student Government, passing around a contact sign-up sheet for students interested in volunteer work.
The event was hosted by Student Government.