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Election studies

Oct. 1, 2004

By Ashley Couch

The day after his June graduation, Joshua Wolf was on his way to Washington, D.C., to start a job at the Corporate Executive Board, an organization for business leaders. Halfway there, though, he changed his mind about accepting the well-paying position and turned his truck around.

"I just felt the people of southeast Ohio needed me," says Wolf, BMUS '04, who is working for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign in a role he considers "service to the community."

As part of the campaign staff, Wolf, of Lebanon, Ohio, tries to organize southeast Ohio voters and volunteers to support Kerry. Though he was not initially the top pick of all Democrats, Kerry has found a "unified support among voters," Wolf says.

Other Ohio University students and recent graduates also are working to persuade Ohioans to vote in the 2004 election. The job may be tough considering that in the 2000 presidential contest, 58.1 percent of eligible Ohioans actually reported voting, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Eighteen- to 24-year-olds had the lowest voting rate of any age group at 37 percent.

In the '04 race, voter turnout in Ohio is important because the state's 20 electoral votes are outnumbered by those of only six other states.

John Grandetti, BS '04, works for President Bush's re-election campaign in his hometown of Amherst, Ohio.

"Basically, I go door-to-door and attend rallies or parties thrown by local Bush team leaders - anything on the grassroots level," says Grandetti, who studied political science as an undergraduate and now is pursuing a master's. Grandetti also campaigns for Bush in Athens as a member of Ohio University College Republicans.

"Toward the end of spring quarter, I attended OUCR meetings and helped with some publicity for those meetings. For example, chalking the sidewalks and painting the Graffiti Wall by Bentley Hall. When I come back in the fall," Grandetti says, "I would imagine I would contribute in whatever way the Bush team in southeast Ohio needs me."

Clayton Henson, of Lebanon, Ohio, is a senior majoring in philosophy and political science. He will work to promote Bush in the fall as chair of the Ohio University College Republicans.

"The main thing that I am trying to do as OUCR chairman is to strengthen our club in any way possible," Henson says. "I seek to get as many members as possible, with as much diversity as possible. This relates to my involvement in the Bush campaign because a strong club will be able to give the Bush campaign more and better aid than a weak one. This will necessitate calling people, going door-to-door, hanging signs, wearing T-shirts, registering voters and getting Republicans out to the polls."

Senior Nathan Ray of Troy, Ohio, who is nearing completion of a bachelor of specialized studies degree in media/environmental studies, initially supported Sen. John Edwards for the Democratic nomination. Ray went to Charleston, S.C., for a week before the primaries to campaign for Edwards.

"In Charleston, the time went by fast," Ray says. "I helped divide the voter sheets and map out routes for best possible canvassing coverage, which we would then put in a folder for the teams of volunteers."

Ray and other campaign volunteers had the chance to meet the candidate as well.

"After completing the campaign activities, we all hurried to a little sports bar in downtown Charleston to watch the Super Bowl; however, this was not the only thing that we were excited about," Ray says. "Earlier that weekend, we had found out that Sen. Edwards would be stopping by to watch the game there, too, with his support and campaign staff.

"Just before halftime, in walked our candidate wearing a Carolina Panthers jacket and his trademark smile."

Ray also contributed to the Edwards campaign in Athens.

"I got a group of about eight people together who made calls to the surrounding area for me," he says. "I began this phone banking about two weeks prior to Super Tuesday. In that time we made nearly 2,500 calls."

Regardless of their varied political preferences, certainly one of the best outcomes of these students' campaign experiences is the early taste of political activism they're gaining.

Ashley Couch, BSJ '05, was a student writer for University Communications and Marketing this past summer. This story appeared in the fall 2004 edition of Ohio Today.

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