Campus groups turn voter registration into a party, attract potential student voters with music and food

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Students scramble to voter registration booths in the West Mall on the final day of registration. Hook the Vote, as well as other campus groups, set up these booths for last-minute sign ups.
Photo Credit: Jenan Taha | Daily Texan Staff

Dressed from head to toe in red, white and blue, Rosie Zander, campus director for University Democrats, was one of many volunteers Tuesday evening who flagged down students heading home from class and encouraged them to register to vote before the midnight deadline.

The registration rally was hosted on the Main Mall by Hook the Vote, UT Votes, Texas Rising and UDems. All of the organizations had their own volunteer deputy registrars. 

English junior Alex Arias is voting in a presidential election for the first time. She registered to vote at the rally and is supporting Hillary Clinton in the election.

“This election is bigger than most, not just with the candidates, it’s the first presidential election I’m able to vote in,” Arias said. “I really need Hillary to win so Donald Trump doesn’t get it.”

Mathematics freshman Zayla Neveu is undecided in the presidential election, but was convinced by a recent UT panel about the election that she needs to vote.

“At first, I wasn’t planning on voting because I didn’t want to support either of the candidates, but I went to a lecture about the 2016 election and it made me realize that my vote matters, so I’m just going to pick one,” Neveu said.

Neveu said she’s been watching the debates to make her decision but still hasn’t decided on who she will support. Neveu said she thinks eligible voters who didn’t register should have done so in case they change their minds in the next month.

“That’s why I decided to register,” Neveu said. “I don’t want to miss out just in case I do end up leaning toward a candidate by election day.”

Bailey Schumm, public health and government junior, is the agency director for Hook the Vote, an organization focused on turning out the vote on campus. Schumm and her friends became volunteer deputy registrars to help people who are unfamiliar with the registration process.

“I have seen a lot of people not very familiar with the voter registration process so anything we can do to help other students is really inspiring,” Schumm said. “There are a ton of questions that aren’t answered very well.”

Schumm wore socks that said “Vote!” as she helped students fill out registration forms. Schumm said the rally was an attempt to boost participation in the democratic process.

“It’s good to have an event so people can kind of know exactly where they can go,” Schumm said. “It’s a lot of fun, we have food and music, incentivizing people registering to vote even more.”

The deadline to register to vote was midnight on Oct. 11. Students must bring their registration certificate and a photo ID to the polls when they go to vote. Students can early vote at the Flawn Academic Center from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4.