Despite changes to Texas Voter ID Law, UT students are not having many issues with voter registration, according to a Hook the Vote official.
Beginning with the 2013 fall elections, voters in the state of Texas are now required to present an approved form of photo identification to vote in all Texas elections, according to the Office of the Texas Secretary of State. Acceptable forms of photo identification include a Texas driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, also known as DPS, a U.S. passport or a U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph.
At a Hook the Vote sponsored event Monday in Gregory Plaza, Arjun Mocherla, Hook the Vote director and Plan II and pre-med senior said he initially thought out-of-state students without applicable Texas photo identification would be affected the most by the law. Hook the Vote is a bipartisan student organization that promotes voter registration and awareness.
“So far we haven’t had that issue,” Mocherla said. “[The Texas Department of Public Safety] was really great about setting up one of the camera stations the week before the election last fall to help make IDs for anyone who didn’t have an ID. It may impact people, but, as far as students are concerned, I haven’t heard of any issues.”
Monday was the last day to register to vote in the March primaries. Tanner Long, a government junior and council member of Hook the Vote, said he believes the upcoming Texas gubernatorial election has increased student engagement.
“A lot of people don’t necessarily care about the primaries,” Long said. “But I’ve definitely seen a lot of students interested in the governor race coming up because it is crucial for the Democrats here on campus supporting Wendy Davis and the Republicans here supporting several candidates. You hear more conversation going on about the governor’s race, just walking around campus.”
Biology freshman Tristan Emborgo said he became a U.S. citizen in August of last year and believes every decision a government official makes affects him.
“It is my responsibility as a citizen to vote,” Emborgo said. “So it is important that the person I believe in goes to office.”
Hook the Vote registered 15,000 people in 2008, though the number of new registrants in this cycle will not be available until Tuesday.
Mocherla said the organization will continue to push registration, but plans to start providing candidate, party and platform information for students on its website.
“I think a lot of students either don’t know an election is going or maybe don’t know what’s on the ballot,” Mocherla said. “This attempt is to change that. We still think, for students, it might be a little easier for them to access one central access point for information.”