Civic engagement organizations hold voter registration celebration

Sana Hameed

To register people to vote in the primary election, student organizations in the UT Civic Engagement Alliance hosted a celebration Monday from 6 p.m. to midnight. 

The event, held at Gregory Plaza, commemorated the last day to register to vote. It included free pizza, voter registration booths and two voting machines for students to practice using them.

Texas Rising is a nonpartisan issue advocacy group on campus. President Ric Galvan was one of many members recruiting voters. 

“(With) us being here, we’re able to give that information to students (through) their peers,” history sophomore Galvan said. “When they see a student who maybe they have a class with or they’ve seen on campus who tables all the time, they know they can approach them.”

Psychology junior Lizzie Jones said she found the event attention-grabbing and felt comfortable approaching the booths. 

“I was walking by on my way to a meeting, and someone stopped me and asked if I’ve registered to vote,” Jones said. “I had not yet, and I wanted to. I’m glad that they’re doing something like this on campus and making it really easy and accessible for students.”

Kassie Phebillo, a UT Communication Studies Program doctoral student, is the program coordinator of TX Votes, a nonpartisan voter engagement student organization that oversees the alliance. Phebillo said the primary election allows voters to show their preference for a particular candidate and can impact voters on a local level.

“Who is actually going to be on your general election ballot is chosen at this time,” Phebillo said. “No matter which party you vote for, the more people who are voting in those primaries, it means the more money that party is going to be getting to put toward elections in our state.”

The Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar, Bruce Elfant, said Texas ranks about 47th in U.S. voter turnout. Young people are the lowest demographic of any age group registered to vote, which is why Elfant said he believes these events are important.

With about 1,000 voters already registered by the alliance prior to the event, Phebillo expects registration numbers to surpass at least 1,500.  

“I get inspired when I see so many people working hard to get there and their fellow classmates and future staff members and professors registered and voting,” Elfant said. “Hopefully, we’re going to have a voter turnout that’s going to be off the charts this year.”