Section: News

Gund Gallery registers voters through nonpartisan kiosks

Last Friday, Sept. 14, the Gund Gallery and the Kenyon Democrats met to discuss their separate voter registration efforts taking place in Peirce Hall. After the Gallery quelled the student group’s concerns, the two agreed that the Gund Gallery’s kiosk could sit next to the Kenyon Democrats’ voter registration table when they are active.

The Gund Gallery began registering people to vote in Ohio at the Community Feast on Aug. 31. Since then, it has put up kiosks with instructions, sample registration forms and lockboxes in Peirce, the bookstore and the gallery itself. The three kiosks will remain in their current locations until Oct. 8, at which point Chris Fahlman ’72, the Gund Gallery’s director of operations,  will take the remaining forms to the Board of Elections.

“I think the Community Feast was the perfect opportunity for us to kick it off and get started because we had nearly 100, maybe 80 or 90 [registrations] right then,” Fahlman  said.

That success is what prompted the gallery to set up its kiosks elsewhere around campus. Fahlman estimates that the gallery has helped to register between 150 and 200 people in the last eight weeks.

The Kenyon Democrats were initially worried that the Gallery’s registration efforts were illegal. They were mistaken and this turned out to be a nonissue, but they still wanted to raise concerns about the potential for students to make mistakes at the kiosk.

“With unmanned booths, because there are a lot of very specific requirements for Kenyon students, we were worried that people were going to be filling them out wrong,” said President of the Kenyon Democrats Lizzie Boyle ’19.

Fahlman explained that, though there had been some errors, he estimated that 80 percent of registration documents had successfully been sent through to the Board of Elections. When a form is denied, Fahlman reaches out to the student who completed the form. They can correct their errors by either filling out another form for the Gund Gallery, going online and filling out a form there or sending their registration to the Board of Elections by mail.

The most common mistakes have been failing to include one’s post office box alongside the address of their apartment or residence hall and putting ‘USA’ for county of residence, according to Fahlman. He said the Gallery received no joke or fake registrations.

Fahlman described the Gund Gallery’s role as being like that of a concerned citizen: They simply provide a space for voters to register and a guarantee that those forms will be delivered to the Board of Elections.The Gund Gallery, as a private, not-for-profit institution, must avoid partisanship.

“Whatever way anybody wants to vote, I just want them to be able to express themselves and have the government reflect the decisions of the voter,” Fahlman explained.

Boyle echoed this, highlighting the importance of having a nonpartisan group facilitating registrations on campus.

“I like that there is a nonpartisan organization on campus also registering voters because … I understand why some students who aren’t Democrats would be a little more hesitant to register [at the Kenyon Democrats’ table],” Boyle said. 

As a compromise between having a nonpartisan kiosk and ensuring people do not make mistakes, during the hours that the Kenyon Democrats are tabling in Peirce, the kiosk will be moved next to their table.

“We [at the Gund Gallery] think of ourselves as an outward-facing institution … we have a space where people look at us [as] not only a campus resource but a community resource, so it’s just easy for us to take advantage of that,” Fahlman said.

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