It’s election season again, and the midterm elections are coming up quickly! By now, you have likely been asked by several different political entities around campus if you are registered to vote. To aid in this campaign season, we have compiled the following Voter’s Guide to keep you informed and make voting easy!
October 9th: Last Day to Register!
October 22nd- November 2nd: Early Voting (Avoid the lines!)
November 6th: General Election day!
Most Texas residents are eligible to vote! If you’re not sure, check the eligibility requirements on this non-partisan website: https://www.vote411.org
First, you need to know where you live! This sounds simple, but when it comes to voting in Austin the issues, candidates, and polling locations may wildly differ based on your county and district.
For your county, you can use this government website (and your Texas Driver’s License Number) to determine if and where you are registered as well as your polling locations: https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do
If you reside in Travis county, you will be able to vote at UT Flawn Academic Center! If you want to vote elsewhere in Travis county, the following site is really helpful for finding the most convenient location: https://www.votetravis.com/vexpress/display.do
There are several districts in the Austin area. Districts determine who your Congressional representatives are as well as local laws and policies. To determine your district, I found the following site most helpful: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.
But what/who are we voting FOR? Midterm elections are important because they determine the balance of power between the Senate and the House on the national and state levels. It also determines local representatives for law and justice proceedings in many ways. The Texas Tribune created this nice breakdown of who is running for what, including the districts! From there, it’s good to research the different candidates’ platforms through each of their websites. Vote411 is expected to provide overviews soon as well.
There are also a several locally-based propositions you can vote upon such as tax-supported funding of museums/cultural arts/libraries, public safety facilities, and housing development.
Sample ballots available online:
Many people think “my one little vote hardly makes a difference,” but the races are close this season between party lines. Your vote, grouped with those of your party, can make a difference in the balance of power in our political system!
In addition, according to the Texas Secretary of State, only 59% of registered voters cast their vote in the 2016 Presidential election; the US Census Bureau statistics show Texas with the LOWEST voter turn-out. Worse yet, only 33.7% showed up for the 2014 midterm (gubernatorial) elections! This means the majority of voters are not represented at the polls. How can our government represent us if we are not representing ourselves?
Hopefully, this guide helps you take command of your choice this voting season. Looking forward to seeing all your “I Voted” stickers across campus!
Article by D’Evelyn Wymore