UT Votes holds training in advance of May elections

Ally Ortegon

UT Votes hosted their semesterly training on Tuesday to become a Travis County volunteer deputy registrar.

UT Votes is a nonpartisan, voter engagement organization on campus. The training, which allows one to register others to vote, took place in the Texas Union and was open to any resident of Travis County.

“If you want the civic engagement bug to bite you, one of the best things you can do is come out to (this) training,” business freshman Marco Guajardo said. “It really does fill you with a sense of civic pride, that you can register people for this entire election season. This event is very important to get people to know that there are even elections going on, to come out and
stay involved.”

The training, led by Program Coordinator Kassie Barroquillo of UT Votes, included an explanation of what a VDR can and cannot do, as well as proper etiquette when
handling voters.

“We want to encourage more than just voter turnout,” Barroquillo said. “It’s easier to vote when you’re approached by your friends. The more VDRs and involvement we have on campus, the better, because we are reaching a wider range of people.”

Those in attendance included UT students and residents of Austin. Some came to make unregistered people more comfortable while others wanted to increase voter involvement in
less-involved communities.

“(When registering on campus), I feel like it makes it easier when you’re approached by someone who is your own age, rather than someone much older and not relatable,” physics freshman Joselyn Ochoa said.

Many of the current members of UT Votes were already trained VDRs, including newly elected UT Votes President Sarah Herzer.

“You truly make a difference with every single person you register to vote,” said Herzer, a political communication and ancient history sophomore. “It’s work that’s very tangible, and you (can) see immediate results.”

This event was one of many that UT Votes conducts on campus to promote civic engagement. Other such events have included a Meet the Candidate event, an election night watch party, and contests to educate students on candidates and policies during elections.

“Too often, we feel that civic engagement, being involved in what’s going on in your government and local politics … turns people off,” Guajardo said. “We feel that we can help … to get them interested. We want people to be engaged and able to discuss things once they know how to be involved.”