Columbus, OH

Two local polling locations close, relocate away from University District

The Lantern
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Godman Guild was Columbus’ first settlement house, providing services such as GED classes, vocational training and programming for youth. Credit: Tom Hanks | Lantern Reporter

Two nearby polling stations will be unavailable to University District residents for the upcoming Nov. 2 election.

According to the Franklin County Board of Elections website , the Martin Janis Senior Center, located at 600 E. 11th Ave., and the Godman Guild Association, located at 303 E. 6th Ave., have been closed as polling locations for the 2021 election cycle.

The Martin Janis Center is closed due to flooding, Aaron Seller, public information officer for the Franklin County Board of Elections, said.

According to the board’s website, those who voted at the Janis Center are being redirected to the Dwell Community Church, located at 1934 N. 4th St. — a mile away from the Janis Center.

Seller said the board of elections considered locations closer to the Janis Center, but contenders didn’t have enough parking or failed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

“Sometimes we do run into issues finding viable locations,” Seller said. “It can be very difficult to find locations that meet all the requirements that we need — specifically in older parts of the county.”

The second closed polling location, the Godman Guild Association, is moving out of  Weinland Park, according to an April 27 statement on its website .

The association was Columbus’ first settlement house, providing services such as classes for GED certification, vocational training and programming for youth, according to the statement.

Those who previously voted at the association have been redirected to the Veritas Community Church located at 345 E. Second Ave., according to the board’s website.

Seller said other polling locations in the area include the Ohio Union and the St. Thomas More Newman Center, located at 64 W. Lane Ave. Both are equipped to handle assigned students and University District residents on Election Day.

Cal Ruebensaal, president of Ohio State’s College Republicans chapter, said many Republicans on campus prefer to vote in their hometowns because they believe their vote in Columbus — an area traditionally won by Democrats — won’t change the outcome of the election.

“It’s more worth our vote to go home and vote in competitive districts than to vote in downtown Columbus, where we’re outnumbered five to one at least,” Ruebensaal, a third-year in mechanical engineering, said.

Ronald Holmes, president of Ohio State’s College Democrats chapter, called the closures disappointing.

“I was very disappointed to hear about it. Voting on campus is difficult already,” Holmes, a fifth-year in political science, said. “Many students never update their registration when they move to Ohio, and students have missed elections because they couldn’t make it to their home cities to vote, or forget to update their registration when they come here.”

Holmes said those who may not be able to make it to their polling station on Election Day can vote early, and the College Democrats have been arranging transportation — such as carpools — to the polls or the Board of Elections.

Students who would like to carpool to voting locations can contact the College Democrats at ohiostatecollegedemocrats@gmail.com , Holmes said.

“If you think it might be too difficult for you to get to your final location, definitely use one of those early voting opportunities to go and cast your vote early,” Holmes said.

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