Parade to the Polls marches to promote early voting

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Chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Let’s go vote,” students and student organizations marched from Gregory Gym Plaza to the Flawn Academic Center to encourage students to vote in the upcoming primaries.

Parade to the Polls is an effort by the nonpartisan student organization TX Votes, UT Graduate Student Assembly and UT Civic Engagement Alliance to encourage student civic engagement. Representatives of the three organizations marched across campus alongside other organizations and student government representatives.

Michael Simmons, one of the marchers of Parade to the Polls and community and regional planning graduate student Mike Simmons, said he wanted to support the parade by making it bigger and more visible.

“The government listens to its people and the people that you vote into office will listen to certain people,” Simmons said. “So if the people in office right now aren’t listening to who you think they should be listening to, then they should be replaced.”

In her send-off speech for the parade, Student Government president Alejandrina Guzman talked about her meetings with Congress members in Washington, D.C., regarding student issues.

“In one of those meetings, I shared a story about Pell Grants and how the cuts might be happening,” Mexican-American studies and government senior Guzman said. “After I shared the story with one of the Congress members, they said to me, ‘You know what? After listening to you and hearing your story, I will assure you that I will not vote for that cut.’ These elected representatives are listening.”

UT won “Most Improved Undergraduate Voting Rate” in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for the 2016 presidential election. TX Votes, which represented UT in the competition, helped increase student voting by 14.8 percent from 2012 to 2016.

TX Votes president Sarah Herzer said the parade was meant to emphasize the importance of student voting at UT.

“It matters because we are very privileged to have a polling location here on campus, and it alerts students of its availability,” political communication and ancient history junior Herzer said in an email. “It also matters because students have important voices that need to be heard in important elections such as these.“

Computer science senior Nicholas Cobb, who marched in the parade, said he wants to encourage student voting because he believes student concerns are underrepresented in government.

“Students are not being treated very fairly by the government,” Cobb said. “College is getting more expensive while wages aren’t growing to fill the gap. Arguably you could say if more students voted, we would get more representation of student interests and therefore we might not be in as bad of a situation.”