Though turnout for the 2020 general election was strong county-wide, less than half of registered voters living on or near the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) main campus cast their ballot.
Of the 6,123 registered voters in Cincinnati’s 12th ward, which encompasses the university as well as parts of Corryville and CUF, only 42% cast their ballot, according to unofficial data from the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
By comparison, voter turnout in the 12th ward was 57% during the 2016 election, data shows.
The ward’s precinct B, which encompasses main campus, saw the lowest percentage of voter turnout in Hamilton County, with only 15% of registered voters casting their ballot.
Langsam Library served as the precinct’s polling place, but only a handful of voters were seen entering the building when the polls opened.
It is unclear why turnout was so low.
In September, student leaders called on state officials to address a "discrepancy" in the state's online voter registration system that prevented students from registering online with their campus address.
The discrepancy, it turns out, was a result of the voter registration system being linked to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles database. Only students with a valid Ohio driver’s license could register to vote online.
David Niven, a political science professor at UC, previously told The News Record that this could limit student participation in the election, as many young people do not have a driver’s license.
Research shows that approximately 52% of 16 to 19-year-olds are licensed drivers, the lowest percentage among any age group.
While turnout at the polls may have been less than enthusiastic, Democrats received overwhelming support from voters in the 12th ward, unsurprising given that Democratic candidates are often favored in college campus precincts during general elections.
But Republicans seized the day statewide. President Donald Trump took the state with 53% of the vote. And Republican Congressman Steve Chabot retained his seat in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District with a seven-point lead despite a strong challenge from Democrat Kate Schroder.
Democrats did manage to pick up another seat on the Ohio Supreme Court, tightening the partisan split on the state’s highest bench.
But in local races Democratic candidates had the upper hand.
Democrats Alicia Reece and Denise Driehaus beat their opponents in the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners race, keeping the three-member board entirely in the party’s control.
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval successfully fended off a challenge from Republican Alex Glandorf.
Charmaine McGuffey beat Republican Bruce Hoffbauer to become the county’s first ever female sheriff.
Democrat Scott Crowley unseated Republican Norbert Nadel for the position of county recorder.
And Jill Schiller, a former Obama administration staffer, narrowly beat Republican Charlie Winburn in the County Treasurer race.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters was the only contested Republican in Hamilton County to retain his seat.
Overall, 421,377 voters cast their ballot in Hamilton County, just over 70% of the county’s total registered voters.
Voter turnout broke records statewide, with more than 5.8 million ballots cast.