Is Ohio State University Advising Students Against Voting in Person on Election Day for Reasons Related to Financial Aid?

On March 27 2023, journalist Sam Levine tweeted about Ohio State University’s purported warning to students about “voting in person on election day” and their financial aid packages:

In addition to the tweet, Levine shared a screenshot of what appeared to be a news article. Levine also linked to a March 26 2023 Associated Press article, “GOP states press voter photo ID rules, with unclear effects.”

Fact Check

Claim: “Ohio State University is advising students against voting in person on election day because Ohio’s new strict voter ID rules could result in complications for their financial aid packages.”

Description: The claim originates from a tweet by journalist Sam Levine, citing an Associated Press article, suggesting that Ohio State University discourages students from voting in person because Ohio’s new voter ID rules might create complications for their financial aid packages. However, OSU disputes this representation, indicating that a staff member merely suggested the most reliable way for an out-of-state student’s vote to be counted would be to vote by mail using their permanent home address.

Rating: Decontextualized

Rating Explanation: This analysis concludes that the claim is decontextualised, as the advice was given by an indirect advisor rather than the institution as a whole, and the advice was suggested rather than officially issued.

Levine’s screenshot matched the text of the article, which with information about a new voter identification law in the state of Ohio:

As Ohio’s primary approaches, a strict new photo ID requirement is stirring concerns for military veterans and out-of-state college students, in Amish communities and among older voters.


….Ohio now requires an unexpired photo ID in order for someone to vote, and [Ohio resident Ruth Kohake will] have to get that at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The law adds passports as valid ID, but eliminates nonphoto documentation such as a bank statement, government check or utility bill for registration and in-person voting. Military IDs also are no longer acceptable when registering to vote.

An excerpt of the article matched the screenshot in the tweet, in a broader section about the effects of barriers to voting on civic engagement:

Holmes County Commissioner Joe Miller fears the new process could deter some voters.

“I want honest voting, I understand that, but a lot of the Amish don’t have the photo ID and won’t do a photo ID,” he said. “So what the Amish do usually — they’re pacifists, they don’t fight anybody — they just walk away.”

Ohio State University has advised its roughly 16,000 out-of-state students against voting in person on Election Day — for fear that obtaining the necessary state ID card could invalidate their driver’s license in their home state and disrupt their financial aid and residency status. The schools suggests such students casting Ohio ballots do so by mail.

Backers of the photo ID requirements have widely moved away from the argument that such laws prevent voter fraud, which happens only rarely. The conservative Heritage Foundation’s database lists only 26 convictions for voter impersonation fraud — the type deterred by photo ID requirements — anywhere in the U.S. between 2004 and 2022. In presidential elections alone, Americans cast more than 645 million votes during that period.

In two threaded tweets directly underneath the AP excerpt, Levine provided additional information, and added that Ohio State University was disputing the reporting from Associated Press:

Update: OSU spox says “The AP article mischaracterizes a quote in the university’s student newspaper. Ohio State has not issued any guidance or advisement.” (1/2)

“A staff member simply said, ‘I think the most guaranteed way you’re going to have your vote counted as an out-of-state student is to make a plan to vote by mail in your permanent home address.’ You can read the full article here [link.] (2/2)

Levine’s link led to a February 27 2023 article on Ohio State University’s, “Ohio’s New Voter ID Law is Expected to Impact Students.” The excerpt clarified the source of the claim and the reasoning behind it.

In that initial reporting, quoted “an indirect advisor” to Ohio State University’s “OSU Votes,” Anna Wagner. Wagner told the student-run paper that it was her belief “the most guaranteed way … to have [one’s] vote counted” was voting by mail with a permanent address.

Wagner added that “financial aid or residency” could pose problems for out-of-state students intending to cast votes while away at school; Ohio’s primary election was slated for May 2 2023:

Anna Wagner, assistant director for Student Leadership Development and an indirect advisor to OSU Votes — a student-led group to encourage others to vote — said [that] out-of-state students getting new state IDs in Ohio could potentially disrupt things like financial aid or residency, which makes it wiser to stick to mail-in voting.

“I think the most guaranteed way you’re going to have your vote counted as an out-of-state student is to make a plan to vote by mail [through] your permanent home address,” Wagner said.

Wagner said OSU Votes plan to increase its education on mail-in voting to ensure students are informed.

A viral March 27 2023 tweet by voting beat journalist Sam Levine said that “Ohio State University [was] advising students against voting in person on election day because Ohio’s new strict voter ID rules could result in complications for their financial aid packages.” Levine cited a March 26 2023 Associated Press article, and shared a screenshot.

In less widely-seen follow-up tweets, Levine provided additional information about Ohio State University, voting, and financial aid. Levine linked to a February 2023 article by student-run newspaper In it, an “indirect advisor” to campus voting advocacy group OSU Votes posited that in-person voting could interfere with financial aid tied to residency, and offered that mail-in voting was perhaps a safer option.