Chemistry junior Maya Patel grew up with immigrant parents who couldn’t vote in U.S. elections and saw firsthand the importance of participating in democracy. She now dedicates her time to registering as many UT students to vote as possible.
“I witnessed by dad become a citizen and saw the pride he felt when he voted for the first time,” said Patel, TX Votes vice president. “The amount of civic power that comes with being a citizen is tremendous, but most people don’t realize that, or they take it for granted.”
Students planning on voting in the upcoming general election have less than three weeks left to register in Travis County.
TX Votes, a nonpartisan student organization focused on improving civic engagement, has spent months registering students, Patel said. The organization’s goal is to register 25,000 students before the Oct. 9 deadline.
“We’ve been tabling at the West Mall every day, helping students fill out the forms and answering any questions they have,” Patel said. “We registered 1,000 students during the first week of classes alone.”
Gretchen Nagy, Travis County voter registration director, said it’s easiest for students to register on campus with TX Votes or other student Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar. Otherwise, students should get their voter registration application in the mailbox no later than Oct. 8, Nagy said.
“Students should register now while there is no shortage of opportunities to get it done,” Nagy said. “If you register on campus, the student (registrars) will take care of everything, and you won’t have to worry about your application reaching my desk in time.”
Nagy said students should register in Travis County because the issues decided and candidates elected in the local races will greatly impact their lives.
“If you enjoy going to parks around Austin, if you study at the public library, if you take classes at ACC, if you ride the CapMetro buses — everything involves some kind of elected official,” Nagy said. “We want students to realize that by registering to vote in Travis County, they will have a say in issues that affect their day-to-day lives.”
Olive Alexander, international relations and global studies sophomore, said she registered Monday through TX Votes.
“I became a citizen earlier this year, so I’m ecstatic to finally vote,” Alexander said. “It’s important for students to vote and if I’d had the opportunity before, I would have take it in a heartbeat.”