CLEVELAND — As the deadline for registering to vote in Ohio for next month's election nears, Cleveland State University is doing all it can to ensure all eligible student-athletes will be able to cast their ballots.
Last week, Cleveland State University's Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), in conjunction with the department's newly-created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, announced its 2020 non-partisan voting initiative: Vikings Vote.
The goal of Vikings Vote is to educate Cleveland State's student-athletes over the importance of voting, ensure all eligible student-athletes are registered to vote and ultimately, exercise their right to vote on November 3rd.
Cleveland State men's basketball coach Dennis Gates decided to take Vikings Vote a step further recently. Gates took his players to visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, followed by a visit to Samson Pavilion prior to last Tuesday's presidential debate.
"I think it's important that we educate our young people, not just on registering to vote. Because there's a lot in between actually signing up to register and walking in or mailing in your ballot," Gates told me in a recent Zoom conversation. "Voting is a fascinating process."
Each of Cleveland State's 18 varsity programs has a designated Voting Team Captain who's responsible for making sure that all student-athletes, who are eligible, are registered to vote.
During the Vikings' tour of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, players got to see how social distancing will be done when people come into vote. They also saw the drop box that electors can use to turn in their ballots early.
"I wanted to have our guys get out there and see how things work behind the scenes," Gates added. I wanted them to embrace the process and not run from it. Those lines are going to look longer because of social distancing that's required. Having someone on hand at the board of elections to give us a field trip was amazing. I saw our guys grow. It was a victory. We won that day. Cleveland State basketball notched a 'W' in that column."
The deadline to register to vote in Ohio is Monday, October 5.
You can watch my full interview with Vikings Head Coach Dennis Gates in the player below:
Helpful voting links: