The sun had not yet risen over Talawanda High School, but Butler County residents were already at the voting booths for Election Day on Nov. 8.
Gail Hamilton, who has lived in Oxford for two years, was the first one in line. Hamilton said she was voting to see a change in Ohio’s government from Republican to Democratic.
Despite Hamilton’s political alignment, she voted for incumbent Mike DeWine for Ohio’s governor, although she doesn’t agree with some of DeWine’s beliefs.
“Unfortunately, I voted for DeWine regardless of his stance on abortion because Whaley just looks like an idiot,” Hamilton said.
Lexi Jameson-Marsh has lived in Butler County for 13 years. Jameson-Marsh said she voted today because she is afraid of who will end up in office. Jameson-Marsh was particularly concerned with the candidates racing for Ohio’s Senator seat, JD Vance and Tim Ryan.
“I saw the debate, and I think Vance is just a terrifying person in general,” Jameson-Marsh said. “I think he’s someone who’s taken advantage of a lot of underrepresented individuals throughout his career, and I think it’s just something that he’s going to continue to do if he ends up in leadership.”
As the sun began to rise, more voters turned out to the polls, but they didn’t have to wait in a line.
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Jan Ames, who has been voting in Butler County for 40 years, walked into the high school and exited less than 20 minutes later with “another successful vote.” Ames said she has never missed a day of voting except for when she was in the hospital with her first child. That year, she voted with an absentee ballot.
“[Voting] is our absolute greatest right,” Ames said. “It’s a privilege.”
Ames said her biggest concerns heading into the poll were the economy and helping future generations. She feels the race for Ohio’s governor is one of the most important positions on the ballot.
“Mike DeWine is our candidate,” Ames said. “He’s a Miami man, and he’s a good man. He’s been a very good governor.”
Like Ames, Tom Troke has been voting in Butler County for more than 40 years. One of his biggest concerns is the candidates fighting for Ohio’s House of Representative seat, incumbent Sara Carruthers and her opponent, Miami University student Sam Lawrence.
“Age really doesn’t enter into the issue,” Troke said. “It’s a matter of political stance. If he’s of legal age to run, that’s not an issue with me. It matters where they stand on the issues that matter to me.”
Troke said he votes more conservatively on issues, and therefore favors Carruthers, the Republican nominee, for the state House seat.
In addition to the scattered voters entering and leaving the high school, volunteers like Emily Moore were bundled up in coats, hats and mittens while handing out information on the Talawanda levy.
Moore was volunteering with Yes for Talawanda, a political action committee (PAC) advocating to pass a levy for the Talawanda School District that will increase the district’s budget but impose a property tax for Butler County residents.
Moore got to the voting booth around 7 a.m.. She said it’s important for voters to be informed about the levy because the school district, which hasn’t passed a levy since 2004, is struggling with current expenses.
“Just like everyone has had to adjust finances, so has the school, and the school has done an awesome job of finding ways to save money,” Moore said. “But at this point, there’s only so much cutting you can do before it cuts into the quality of what talent Talawanda has to bring for its children.”
Susie Kotto came to the high school with her daughter, Anne Marie Kotto, because it was Anne Marie Kotto’s first time voting.
“I’m excited,” Anne Marie Kotto said. “Since it’s my first time being able to [vote], I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity.”
The issue they anticipated voting on was the Talawanda School District levy. Anne Marie Kotto is a senior at Talawanda High School and wants to have a voice in making the decision to fund the school district. Susie Kotto, an educator and parent in the district, said the levy is important because she knows the schools are financially strapped.
“I know our community needs it, and I know our children benefit from all the opportunities that the extra finances give our teachers, schools and children,” Susie Kotto said.
At around 8:00 a.m., there was still no line to vote.
Reporting by Asst. Campus & Community Editor Alice Momany.
The Marcum Hotel and Conference Center around 9 a.m. also saw a few scattered voters. Campaign signs lined the entrance to the parking lot, and signs that said “vote here” pointed voters to the right place.
Members of RedHawks Count, a nonpartisan student organization dedicated to civic engagement, stood outside and made sure voters had everything they needed to ensure a smooth voting process.
Annabel DeChant, a sophomore political science and strategic communications major and member of RedHawks Count, voted in her hometown with an absentee ballot, but wanted to make sure other students were able to cast their votes.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work getting out the vote and helping students make sure they can make it to the polls and cast their vote,” DeChant said.
DeChant and other members made sure student voters had their voter proof of address, and if they didn’t, they showed how to find it.
They also gave handouts to Miami students, faculty and staff with a QR code that leads to a survey on whether Election Day should be an academic holiday, meaning campus would be open but classes would not meet.
“We want to get some information and insight to see if it would make it easier for students, [faculty and staff] to vote and if they would benefit from that,” DeChant said.
Caroline Giannone, a senior finance major at Miami, decided to vote in Oxford rather than her home state in Illinois, because she wants to be able to make a change in a swing state.
“There’s a lot of things I want to change and … you have to use your voice, and I figured I would rather use my voice here in Ohio than in a state where I know my opinions are pretty similar [to other voters’],” Giannone said.
Kiersten Hornberg, a sophomore English education major, registered in Oxford for similar reasons. She said she voted with recent events in mind.
“With the Roe v. Wade decisions and all the Supreme Court discussions going on, I was keeping that in mind as well as other bigger issues like gun reform legislation,” Hornberg said.
As a college student, Hornberg felt it was her civic duty to vote.
“It’s important that everyone exercises their civic duty, especially on college campuses and especially in swing states in Ohio,” Hornberg said. ““Especially with policies that are going to be affecting our daily lives, it’s important that [we] make sure that we can make our voice heard.”
Thor Hogan, a professor at Earlham College, said he was voting for a lot of issues, but one important one was the Talawanda levy.
“[I’m] supporting the levy for increased funding for the schools,” he said. “I have an 11-year-old son, so that’s important to me.”
Lily Bayer, a sophomore strategic communications major, came to Marcum with a friend to vote.
“We really wanted to vote for Sam Lawrence,” Bayer said, “and I feel like that’s controversial but he’s in our grade and it was fun to vote for someone our age … and I agree with [his platform].”
Bayer said it was her first time voting electronically, but the process was simple.
“It was really nice to just click it and be done, and there was no line and everyone was super nice,” she said.
From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. today, RedHawks Count will host a “Party at the Polls” outside of Marcum to get students excited about voting. There will be free food and giveaways, including Yeti water bottles, Airpods and hockey jerseys.
“All are welcome to attend,” said Reena Murphy, another member of the organization. “All are welcome to enter into the giveaways regardless of voter status, regardless of citizenship. It’s a celebration of democracy for all.”
Reporting by Senior Campus & Community Editor Lexi Whitehead
At noon, students, faculty, staff and residents slowly trickled in and out of the Marcum Hotel. Although no large crowds or lines accumulated outside of the building, the parking lot remained relatively full. A representative from Election Protection was onsite, monitoring for indications of voting intimidation.
Tammy Crawford has been a location supervisor with the Butler County Board of Elections for 15 years. She said so far today there’s been a smooth stream of voters who didn’t have to wait to cast their ballots.
“We’ll be here until 7:30 p.m. for voters,” Crawford said. “So far we’ve been a little steady, no waits.”
Vanessa Hickcox, a senior marketing major at Miami, said the issue that’s most important to her during this election is the governor race.
“I came to vote just because I’m really concerned with the governor in particular. I am hoping to replace the incumbent governor,” Hickcox said. “I did like how Mike DeWine handled COVID, but I feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement, and I feel like Nan Whaley fills in those gaps.”
Skylar Corder, junior primary education major, is originally from Cincinnati (Hamilton County) but has been voting in Butler County for state elections over the last few years. She said important issues on the ballot for this election cycle included LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights.
“I was a bit devastated, to say the least, in the overturning of Roe vs. Wade this past year, so it was important to me, even though I don’t get to go home to vote, to get out here and put people in office that I feel could maybe reverse those decisions [or] advocate for those decisions,” Corder said.
As an education major, Corder’s voting perspective weighed heavily on issues relevant to future generations and the classroom.
“I care a lot about my future students and their rights, so that goes a lot into my process when I’m choosing who I want to vote for,” Corder said. “I’m looking for people who mentioned education, who advocate for everybody, because that’s what education is: advocating for everybody.”
Heather Merhout, fifth-year music composition major, was concerned with State Issues 1 and 2. Issue 1 would require further considerations for judges when setting bail, and Issue 2 would prohibit non U.S. citizens from voting in local elections.
“I definitely don’t think illegal immigrants should be able to vote because I think that would definitely skew democracy and probably toward the Democratic side,” Merhout said.
Although some students, such as Lanie Triplett, a sophomore marketing major, said they weren’t entirely aware of the issues on the ballot, they still wanted to exercise their civic duty.
“I’m gonna be honest, I’m a little bit out of the loop, but I have things that I believe in and I feel those aren’t happening right now,” Triplett said. “So, I’m here to vote for that.”
While some voters have voted in years past, Ned Neely, a first-year university studies major, said today was his first time voting and the process was relatively easy.
“It was actually really smooth,” Neely said. “I was not expecting that. I just walked in. Bada boom, bada bing. Out of there.”
Sam Wentz, a sophomore supply chain major, at Miami said he came to vote because his grandpa always reminded him of its importance.
“My grandpa always said to vote because not everyone's always been able to vote,” Wentz said. “So I just try to do what I can.”
Wentz said the issue he is looking forward to voting on is the Talawanda levy.
“I think schools need to be funded,” Wentz said. “It’s something that’s important to me. I’ve been through public school, so it’s definitely something that’s important.”
Other students like Jayson Morris, a first-year media and communications major, were excited to vote on candidates. Morris was specifically interested in voting for fellow student Lawrence for Ohio House of Representatives.
“I feel like he should have a fair chance for him to get elected in the House because I feel like everyone, no matter what age you are, you should have a chance,” Morris said.
Another first time voter was Ella Roberts, a sophomore business economics major. She said her mom highlighted the importance of voting to her while she was growing up. For her first time voting, she felt it was a success.
“I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I did some research beforehand, and it feels good,” Roberts said. “I wish the [poll workers] gave a little bit more instruction … but it’s pretty straightforward. I felt like I was taking an exam.”
Alana Miller, first-year social justice studies and women’s gender and sexuality studies double major, said abortion rights and LGBTQIA+ rights are issues important to her during this election. Prior to election day, Miller said she always looks up the sample ballot to see what she’s going to be voting on during election day.
“I’ll look at candidates and their endorsements, and whether or not they come from organizations that I trust,” Miller said.
Deirdre D’Long has worked part time for the Butler Country Board of Elections for ten years. D’Long says from what she’s observed this year’s voter turn out has seemed huge.
“People are everywhere coming out to vote, voting in early, voting at all the locations I’ve been to today,”” D’Long said.
D’Long said there are 1200 poll workers throughout the county, which is more than usual.
“These pollworkers are here because they are committed to facilitating this process,” D’Long said. “We are so lucky in Butler County”.
Emil Sayahi, a sophomore computer science major, said that he is voting Democrat this election.
“I’m terribly afraid that this country at the federal level is going to be controlled by the Republican Party and for many reasons I’m personally against that,” Sayahi said. “While I do think that the Democratic Party has been rather ineffective, it’s still better than not voting at all.
Sayahi said the senate race is the most important topic on the ballot to him.
“I’m primarily looking for someone who’s willing to tackle standards of living, people’s economic conditions and someone who’s pro-labor movement,” Sayahi said. “And Tim Ryan doesn’t seem to represent exactly that, and J.D. Vance is outright hostile to our basic civil liberties and freedoms.”
Reporting by Asst. Campus & Community Editor Alice Momany, Social Media Editor Megan McConnell and Staff Writer Laura Giaquinto
By 3 p.m., RedHawks Count’s “Party at the Polls” was in full swing.
The group, in association with Miami Activities and Programming (MAP), set up outside Marcum for the event which happens with each election. Addie Taylor, a sophomore majoring in math education, explained that the program was intended to inspire students to come out and vote.
“It’s a three-hour-long, basically a pop out to just get some voter turnout,” Taylor said. “We have some food, some stickers, some giveaways just to celebrate the American democracy and Election Day.”
Food included SDS Pizza and mac and cheese bites from Skipper’s. The event also had stickers with icons including Taylor Swift, Post Malone and Bengals players to show support for voting.
Grace Kelley, a senior political science major, helped RedHawks Count plan the event for this year. She said the event was important to help draw voters, considering it’s a school day.
“People have fought and died for the right to vote throughout history, and especially throughout our country's history,” Kelley said. “But then it's also extremely difficult to vote … especially [because] it's on a school day … so we try and encourage people and give them another reason [to vote] and make it fun.”
Students who voted could also enter a raffle for a chance to win a Yeti tumbler, Airpods or a hockey jersey. Students got one entry from attending but could get additional entries by completing tasks.
One task had students fill out a poll asking them for their opinions on if Election Day should be an academic holiday. Another required students to write why they voted on a sign and take a picture with a mascot of the Bill from “Schoolhouse Rock!”
Jacob Kanuk, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, said he came out to vote because he wants to uphold the nation’s duty to provide rights.
“This election cycle I want to make sure that constitutional rights are at the forefront of our progress as a nation,” Kanuk said.
Kelsey Norris, a sophomore majoring in political science and Latin American studies, expressed her belief in using her voice to represent the people who do not have as much of a say.
“Combating voter suppression and expanding rights for people in general [are important issues to me this election],” Norris said.
Maya Nair, a first-year majoring in biochemistry, said she voted to exercise her civil duty, especially as a woman.
“I believe that with civil liberties come civil responsibilities,” Nair said. “There are millions of women around the world who cannot vote.”
Reporting by Contributing Writer Taylor Stumbaugh and Asst. Campus & Community Editor Luke Macy
After the sun set, voters continued to trickle in to Marcum and the high school.
This election is important Sofia Muriel, a senior psychology major, because it deals with abortion rights.
“I especially want just more Democratic Senators to be able to make sure we get Roe v. Wade back,” Muriel said.
She filed a provisional ballot as a non-Ohio resident, but hesitated to do so for a while out of fear of doing it wrong.
“I tried to register online a couple months ago and found it a bit confusing,” Muriel said. “I have to call the Board of Elections within the next seven days to see if my vote even counts, which is going to be annoying, but I guess it makes sense for security purposes.”
She went with her friend Sabrina Stefani, a sophomore social work major and first-time voter Sabrina Stefani. She encountered some difficulty getting there.
“I actually went to Talawanda Middle School, and they sent me here,” Stefani said. “But I don’t know if the process is normally easy or quick.”
Both students come from Highland Park, Illinois, where a mass shooting occurred on July 4 of this year.
“I’m definitely a lot more educated and passionate about gun laws than I was before,” Stefani said.
Zach Mehlman, office coordinator for an H-VAC company, hopes the House seats will shift to Republican.
“I try not to miss any of the elections because I pay taxes, so I want my voice heard,” Mehlman said. “My parents always said if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Now I have the right to complain until the next election because I got out and did it.”
Ethan Chambers, a sophomore music composition major, used to work as the head speech writer for prospective Lawrence’s House Representative campaign. He started getting politically involved after he voted in the last presidential election his senior year of high school.
“I voted for Tim Ryan because he agrees with a lot of what I believe in,” Chambers said. “A lot of the people he’s trying to take down right now have some pretty nasty ideas about other groups of people, so I want to make sure those people are in safe hands.”
He had a mostly simple time at the polls.
“It seems like there's a lot of voter verification, which I'm not necessarily a fan of, because it was easy for me to do but it might not be for other people,” Chambers said.
Turnout was pretty sparse during this end-of-the-day timeframe. New voters entered only every ten minutes or so.
James Steed, a delivery driver, said one issue that was important to him this election is Butler County Issue 6, which deals with renewing a levy to fund services that protect children.
"[Voting] is a privilege that we have that we take for granted," Steed said, "and every vote matters."
The last voter to vote at Marcum was Trenton Nalls, a sophomore software engineering major. Nalls said the reason he voted last minute was because of his school work, and he would like to see Election Day as a federal holiday in the future.
“I feel like [Election Day] would be a lot more convenient for me as a student if it was a national holiday, and I didn’t have to worry about other things today,” Nalls said. “I had an exam and a presentation today.”
Nalls, a Dayton resident, said the reason he made the effort to vote was because of the race for the governor position.
“I voted for Nan Whaley for governor,” Nalls said. “I recognized the name because she was actually mayor of Dayton, where I live, so that was cool to see.”
At 7:30, the polls closed, and people across Butler County, Ohio and the United States will await results
Reporting by Staff Writer Evan Stefanik, Senior Campus & Community Editor Lexi Whitehead and Asst. Campus & Community Editor Alice Momany