TX VOTES: KEEPING UT VOTERS REGISTERED AND EDUCATED

You’ve probably seen them in your classrooms and if you haven’t, then you’ve definitely seen them tabling on Speedway. TX Votes is a non-partisan student organization that not only hopes to get students educated and registered to vote but works hard to do so.

By visiting over 100 classrooms this spring semester alone, there’s no question that they’ve made a recognizable name for themselves.  

Photo Courtesy of Kassie Phebillo

“I think as an organization, we have grown, which means that our outreach has grown ” Kassie Phebillo, Program Coordinator said.

Phebillo, who’s been with TX votes since that last general election, attributes the increased number of students they’ve registered to their in-class initiative that they started in 2018.

 “We’ve registered probably 5,000 students this school year since the beginning of fall,” Phebillo said.

Their efforts to register students before the deadline at the beginning of February contribute to the steady increase of student voter registration on campus. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement saw a 3,948 increase in voter registrations on campus between 2016 and 2018, so it’s no doubt that TX Votes’ work contributes to the positive growth of engaged and registered voters at UT.

And while TX Votes may be one of the most notable student organizations in the political-sphere – they attribute their recent successes and increases in student activity to the rest of the Civic Engagement Alliance. Without whom they couldn’t have hosted their Last Day to Register to Vote Celebration.

Now that the registration deadline has passed, the next goal for TX Votes includes getting students ready for the polls. With Early Voting and Super Tuesday dates coming up quickly, one-way TX Votes prepares for the hopeful flood of student voters is by ordering and distributing voting guides provided by the League of Women Voters.

“It’s basically a little newsletter with all these races. So, it’s like here’s a statement from this candidate and then their picture, and another one and their background for like all the races,” TX Votes President Anthony Zhang explained.

Photo by Evelyn Garcia

These portable voting guides work to ease first-time voters or any voter who may be put off by the process. TX Votes hopes to distribute these guides to students to ensure no one is misinformed or uneducated before stepping into the polls for what may be the first time.

“I feel like one of the main reasons that people will say that they aren’t engaged with politics, or nervous, or vibe, or like don’t want to is because they don’t know about a lot of stuff. So, there’s like a huge learning curve too,” Zhang said.

Along with helping educate voters, the guides distributed by TX Votes will prevent students from using their phones to remember or look up who to vote for, an action that may seem benign but in reality, comes with legal consequences. “We also provide them with what they need when they go in to vote. So, they’re not accidentally breaking the law.” Phebillo said.

With the national attention to the primary drama in Iowa, TX Votes combats any nerves voters may feel ahead of the Texas primary with accurate information, student-to-student engagement, and space where students can ask any questions regarding the civic engagement process.

See below for important info:

Early Voting in Texas:  Check out the FAC & PCL from 7 am-7 pm to vote! 

–    February 18th-28th, 2020

Primary Election Day (Super Tuesday): Check out the FAC & PCL from 7 am-7 pm to vote! 

–    March 3rd, 2020

Featured image by Evelyn Garcia