On National Voter Registration Day, campus voter education groups took part in registering hundreds of students to vote in a few hours.
Civic engagement organizations, such as TX Votes, Texas Rising, Univeristy Democrats and College Republicans, set up tables throughout campus Tuesday to encourage students to vote. Some of the tables offered pizza or raffles as incentives for students to learn about voting.
“The number of organizations that have come out in favor of youth voter efficacy and civic engagement have renewed passion amongst young people, especially in terms of engagement at the polls,” said Nick Eastwood, Texas Rising coalition chair. “Voting is not something that’s partisan. It’s easy to get behind. It’s your vote. It’s your voice in your democracy. Just showing up to the polls is the most important step.”
While numbers won’t be available for a few days, Eastwood, international relations and global studies and Russian studies sophomore, said he believes the groups registered more students than last year. He also said the face-to-face nature of tabling and greater peer interaction are a large factor in increased voter registration throughout the University.
TX Votes president Anthony Zhang said his organization registered more than 6,000 students last year. The combined total of voters registered by all civic engagement groups was nearly 13,000 during the same season, Zhang said.
TX Votes also allowed students to test out new voting machines coming to Travis County this upcoming election season. Zhang said students were able to practice using the new machines to see how the new paper trail mechanism would work.
Associatejjgovernment professor Bethany Albertson said civic engagement groups on campus were important in increasing voter turnout, especially by making use of National Voter Registration Day to appeal to as many students as possible.
When compared to previous years’ registration numbers on National Voter Registration Day, Albertson said the predicted increased registration is understandable because of the “get out the vote efforts,” or actions taken by groups to increase turnout.
“I see all kinds of students getting involved and trying to help people exercise their right to vote,” Albertson said. “When I walk across campus in the days leading up to the end of voter registration, I can’t walk across campus without somebody coming up to me and asking if I’m registered.”
Albertson also said the greater number of campaigns tailored toward college students for the upcoming registration season is a large factor in the increase of student voters as well.
Zhang added that civic engagement organizations played a very major role in increasing voter turnout. He said civic engagement organizations are on campus registering voters during thebgentirehregistration period.
“From tabling today, I can tell this trend of voting is not just a one time thing,” said Zhang, a chemistry and public health junior. “(Voting) is a habit, and I absolutely see it continuing into the 2020 election season.”