Voter registration closes Oct. 11. Are you prepared to cast your ballot?

With presidential and midterm elections staggered every two years, it feels like we’re always in the middle of an election season. We know that many of you are tired of the political noise and that it’s easy to become overwhelmed or disheartened. We’re tired too. But we’re still going to show up to the polls and cast our votes, and so should you.

Voting isn’t the only way to take political action, but it is perhaps one of the most important. It’s an opportunity to elect officials who represent your views, both in their own state offices and on the national legislative stage. Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat or somewhere in between, the midterms are a time to make your voice heard. No politician will fully align with your personal and political beliefs, but that shouldn’t stop you from voting. 

This year, the gubernatorial race between incumbent Greg Abbott and former congressman Beto O’Rourke is under the most scrutiny, but six other statewide seats also are up for grabs. Students will be able to cast their votes for lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and one of the seats on the Railroad Commission. 

Just as important are the issues at stake on the ballot: the Texas-Mexico border, abortion, inflation, gun policy and election laws. The relative significance of these issues is sharply divided along party lines, but we all have something we care about on the docket. We urge you to familiarize yourselves with where politicians stand on each issue and make informed decisions, rather than voting by party affiliation. 

Before you can vote, however, you’ll need to register. U.S. citizens who will be 18 or older on Nov. 8 are eligible to vote in this year’s midterm. Those eligible can register using a valid Texas driver’s license number, state ID number or the last four digits of their social security number. Registration ends Oct. 11, which means all mailed applications must be postmarked by that date. Students can check, update or print out registration applications at or seek out on-campus voting groups, such as TX Votes, for help registering. 

However, registration isn’t the only step. We’ve seen high registration accompany low voter turnout rates before. When election time comes, students must actually follow through and go vote. In the 2014 midterm elections, 74.9% of eligible UT students were registered, but only 23.5% of those registered actually cast their vote. In contrast, 2018 only showed an 8.7% increase in registration, but 65.6% of those registered — or over 16,000 more students than in 2014 — showed up to the polls. 

This reflects a recent change in youth voter turnout, which has historically been low. Only 17.6% of eligible UT students voted in 2014, but this number rose to 54.8% in 2018. While voting participation increased overall across most age groups, this is particularly striking from a demographic known for consistently low turnout. 

So what changed? Perhaps it was a newfound interest in public policy roused by Donald Trump’s presidency. Maybe it was due to efforts by campus organizers and University administrators to increase student voter participation. Or maybe students just cared more about the issues on the docket. There’s no way to know for sure. 

Regardless, we showed up to the polls in 2018, and the stakes aren’t any lower this time  around. It’s up to us to show up in the same way — if not in even greater numbers. 

There are plenty of places and times for students to vote. The Flawn Academic Center and the LBJ Library are two on-campus polling locations for those registered in Travis County. Students registered outside of Austin can either return home to vote in-person or request an absentee ballot. Early voting will take place from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4, and we urge you to participate to avoid long lines and class conflicts on election day, Nov. 8. To vote, you’ll need to show an approved state issued ID, which doesn’t include your UT student ID. 

 The right to vote isn’t guaranteed by the Constitution. It’s a civil liberty that people have protested for, that many continue to fight for, and one that we shouldn’t take for granted. If you have the opportunity, you should take the time to vote. 

We hope to see you at the polls.

The editorial board is composed of associate editors Mia Abbe, Lucero Ponce, Alyssa Ramos, Michael Zhang and editor-in-chief Megan Tran.