Ohio Secretary of State: Libertarian candidate focuses on a younger crowd

October 30th, 2014



Kevin Knedler

“Democrat or Republican?” we often ask our fellow voting friends. But Kevin Knedler is bringing a new party to the table in the upcoming Nov. 4 election – Libertarian. Often times, we feel that voter choice is limited to two parties, but with an abundance of prospective independent voters in the state of Ohio, we do not need to.


In an interview with Knedler, his consumer marketing approach to the importance of a third party was clear. “We are not all made to be set for one or two choices,” he said. “We choose grocery stores and car colors based on what we like – not just between red and blue.”


Knedler, a native of Ohio and graduate of The Ohio University, is optimistic that the Libertarian party can be the next big thing. As a candidate for Secretary of State, he underlines the importance of remaining independent-minded. He also wants to make Ohioans feel included in the democratic process. In fact, he said the most important aspect of his campaign relies on redistricting and making voting more easily accessible.


As a candidate, Knedler knows that the main duty of Secretary of State is to ensure that elections run smoothly. As such, he said that his main focus would be to minimize the chance of vote suppression by calling out people that he feels are restricting freedom.


But, does Ohio really need to make voting more accessible? Colin Swearingen, a political science professor at John Carroll University, who happens, at age 31, to be fairly young himself, believes that the problem with voting in Ohio does not lie in accessibility, but rather in voter turn-out, which has been gradually decreasing at the local level.


“I don’t think it’s hard to vote in Ohio,” Swearingen said. “I think there are some changes we can make that would reduce the cost of voting. I think we need to make sure we are not discriminating in our voting laws and regulations, but I’m not sure there are many things we can do that will increase turnout.”

In the hope of increasing voter turnout, candidates like Knedler are now focusing on a different age group – young adults. Even older politicians have found the secret behind getting the younger population to vote, and it lies in the hands of almost every American these days. Social media, a tool used by millions of people around the world, has become a necessity in Knedler’s race in the upcoming election.


“When it comes to things like getting people to vote, we need to shake that up,” he stated. “We would really like to target social media because that’s the new communication vehicle.”


Swearingen agrees. He remembers the way people utilized social media during the Obama presidential campaigns, in order to reach a younger audience.


“In order for social media to be effective, there needs to be a sort of peer-pressure approach. Just because someone sees a tweet, doesn’t mean they will actually go out and vote. Ask them, ‘Your friends are voting this way, why aren’t you?’ and ‘Have you chosen a side yet?’,” Swearingen suggested.


So far Knedler has implemented his technologically savvy ideals through the use of Facebook. By searching “Knedler for Liberty in Ohio,” a voter can easily access information about Knedler’s campaign, television appearances and other programs.


By using social media, Knedler said he is trying to establish a foundation on which he can build his support. As a Libertarian, he is aware of the effort it will take to build a solid base of people willing to vote for a third party. He said that young adults seem to be more independent-minded and might be open to his ideas.


However, Swearingen feels otherwise – stating that many young people do not vote because many issues are not pertinent to them until they are older.


“No doubt, young people vote at significantly lower levels than other age groups,” Swearingen said. “Part of it feels like there aren’t very many issues that are relevant to them. Things like student loans and legalizing marijuana catch their eyes, but things like small business regulations – not so much. Many key issues appeal to an older population in general, and what matters to younger people does not apply much to what politicians are campaigning about.”


So far, Knedler’s Facebook page has grasped the attention 414 people and has been mentioned by 306. Many of the “most engaged” people are aged 25-44 and from the Columbus area. While the election quickly approaches, the popularity of the Facebook page has spiked, as more voters are now being introduced to Knedler through different events and televised programs – making his approach to social networking beneficial to both the public and his campaign.