Student organizations promote voter registration during National Voter Registration Day

Cassi Pollock

Three civic engagement organizations registered more than 1,200 students to vote on Sept. 27, National Voter Registration Day.

Since the start of the fall semester, UT Votes, Texas Rising and Hook the Vote have collectively registered more than 6,200 students to vote in the upcoming election.

“It’s a huge success,” said communications studies graduate student Kassie Barroquillo, program director for UT Votes, adding that the overall number of students registered or pledged to vote is a huge improvement from the last election cycle.

In 2012, the University’s voting rate, or the number of students who were eligible to vote and did, ranked among the lowest of public and private institutions at 41.7 percent, according to a report conducted by Tufts University. 

Barroquillo said she thinks more students will vote this year thanks to multiple pushes to register voters such as text alerts and tabling on campus.

“No matter what side anyone is on, there are some pretty strong feelings this election, and I think we can count on that,” Barroquillo said. “I think we’ve had an increase in activity among groups that aren’t typically political at all, and they’re pushing everyone to go register to vote even more.”

Partisan organizations such as College Republicans and University Democrats have also made pushes to register students.

“We launched a very, very significant voter registration during the primaries, and we are continuing that for the general election,” said Doug Snyder, a government and marketing sophomore and University Democrats member.

Snyder said University Democrats registered several hundred students on National Voter Registration Day.

“[UT] is really doing everything in its power to make sure voting is easy on campus,” Snyder said.

However, the lack of appeal that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump carry with young voters may outweigh the University-wide push to register students, said Bethany Albertson, an associate professor who specializes in political psychology and public opinion.

“Both candidates have a lot of work to do in terms of connecting with young voters, and I think it’s going to be rough in terms of getting young people to the polls on Election Day,” Albertson said.

Despite this, Albertson said she thinks campus organizations’ efforts to encourage and register students to vote are impressive.  

“UT has a very vibrant voter registration effort,” Albertson said. “And I think that’s wonderful.”