Volunteers push students to vote

Yvonne Marquez

About 25 volunteers chatted away their cell phone minutes Thursday evening as part of Hook the Vote’s early vote phone bank.

With a list of 14,000 contacts, the volunteers called registered UT student voters who had not voted yet. Their focus was on heavily student-based precincts — including the on-campus, West Campus and Riverside precincts.

Hook the Vote is a bipartisan coalition made up of Student Government, the Student Events Center, University Democrats, UT Votes, the Black Student Alliance, College Republicans and the University Leadership Initiative. The five-member leadership committee wanted to increase student turnout before early voting ends today, said Hook the Vote director Jimmy Talarico.

University Democrats President Michael Hurta said the Travis County Democratic Party generated the list of potential student voters. The list states the voter’s name, age, gender, address and where their Election Day poll is located. He said the information was gathered from past elections and registration from Hook the Vote efforts.

“I don’t think there’s an easier legal way to get their information,” Hurta said.

Government junior Yaman Desai said student voter turnout is lower than it was in 2008 because it’s not a presidential election, which usually comes with more excitement.

“There’s not a lot of excitement that there generally is for a presidential election, so lots of students don’t know or haven’t been following the midterm elections as closely,” Desai said. “State races don’t get as much attention as the national races but these races often matter more than the national races."

Desai said even if Hook the Vote reached a limited amount of people, they reached out to students who would not have voted otherwise. He said what the volunteers at the phone bank did was great.

“Once students volunteer, I think they will realize that they’re not asking people for money or asking them to do anything difficult, just asking them to go out and vote,” Desai said. “In our democracy, that’s the greatest thing a person can do.”

Government senior Derin Kiykioglu said it is important for students to vote so they can give feedback to their elected officials. Kiykioglu said she had great responses from people she called. She said one girl was about to look up the information online so she was glad Kiykioglu called.

“The more we have people vote, the more representation we have of students,” Kiykioglu said. “Students are usually a very largely underrepresented population in the citywide elections. Just to have that student voice and make sure students are heard is very important in order to empower our generation.”