Forum: Believe your opinions should matter, register to vote

Ashley Alcantara

If you’ve never voted before, or even if you have, the process can seem daunting. When do I vote? What is going to be on the ballot? Am I able to vote? And these questions aren’t unwarranted. Voting in Texas can be an overly complicated process, especially for students who move frequently, have a million things to do besides voting and who might be unfamiliar with the process.

But voting isn’t hard once you know how. In fact, you can send a text right now and receive a voter registration form in the mail. If you text “register” to 48683, Travis County will mail you the form, and it takes about a minute to fill out. Then you mail it back, and you are now eligible to vote! And if you go to the polls (which are in the FAC) during the two weeks of early voting, you won’t have to wait in a long line. And voila, you’ve just exercised your constitutional right in under 15 minutes total. While voting seems hard at first, it can be made extraordinarily easy. 

But none of this matters if you don’t want to vote. The biggest problem facing young voters, and one that no amount of simplification of the voting process can change, is apathy and disinterest towards voting. If someone doesn’t want to vote because they don’t care, then an explanation of how to register to vote is going to get nowhere. 

First, students have to realize that every election matters and is applicable to their lives. While everyone knows about the 2016 presidential election (in which young voters will also be extremely important), there are other races that will be on the ballot in 2016, and there’s even an election this year on Nov. 3. While these races are less exciting, the smaller the race the more likely it is to directly affect you. 

Do you like riding Uber/Lyft? Are you concerned about the price of your rent? You have the ability to affect both by voting for City Council. Don’t like campus carry? Do you pay for tuition at UT? You should be voting for your state representative and senator. The list goes on, but the fact of the matter is that elections impact your life. You should be exercising your right to vote. 

Once you decide that you want to vote, University Democrats will be there to help you do it. We’ll be registering students to vote on the West Mall and Gregory Plaza, as well as elsewhere, up until the 2016 election. We’ll register you to vote in Travis County, tell you what’s on the ballot, and how to actually vote. Or you can send a text to register to vote and see what’s on your ballot at votetravis.com. You have options and can do what’s most convenient for you, but first you have to make the decision that your opinions should matter.

Alcantara is a Plan II junior from Houston. She is the communications director for University Democrats.