Be sure to register, stay informed on key issues before Nov. 5 election

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A student registers to vote at a booth set up by the Asian-American Panhellenic Council at the West Mall April 17. Their aim was to encourage more political participation by not only Asian-Americans but also the student population in general.

Photo Credit: Zen Ren | Daily Texan Staff

For students frustrated with the political gridlock occurring at the federal level, the next month may offer a bit of relief from all the political disenchantment, at least as it relates to local politics. That’s because, on Oct. 21, early voting will open for the Nov. 5 election, the ballot for which boasts a number of issues important to students and Texas as a whole.

These include an affordable housing bond for Austin residents and a mechanism to fund a water plan for all of Texas.

In the weeks to come, this newspaper and other news outlets will be discussing the pros and cons of the various ballot measures, and we predict that the debate will be at least a tad bit more enjoyable than the one currently occurring in Washington — mainly because Texans have a real chance to make a productive difference at the polls come Nov. 5.

However, for that to happen, students must understand the full range of issues on the ballot — and, just as importantly, they must register to vote in Travis County.

Though the last day to do so is Monday, the Travis County Voter Registrar’s office has made it possible for students to register until the last minute. On Monday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., students can register to vote, update their voter registration and obtain election identification certificates from the Travis County Clerk’s office in the Flawn Academic Center.

If you are unsure about whether or not you are registered to vote in Travis County, you can check your voter registration at votetravis.com.

Such efforts to engage the student electorate are crucial in a college environment, where there are a number of obstacles keeping students from casting their ballot. These obstacles include having registered to vote in their hometown instead of Travis County, lacking the photo ID necessary to cast a vote or being unaware of the issues being voted on.

The last one is particularly pertinent in the case of the Nov. 5 election, when the ballot will contain a mish-mash of statewide and local issues, such as the aforementioned Affordable Housing Bond authorization for the city of Austin.

Some students may be further perplexed when they realize that, due to Rep. Mark Strama leaving his post as the state legislator from District 50, which encompasses parts of Pflugerville and North Austin, they may be called upon to vote on a new state representative as well.

So what’s a confused student to do? Start by recognizing that these issues, diverse though they may be, are incredibly important.

The Affordable Housing Bond, should it pass, could be the policy that makes it possible for you to afford living in Austin after graduation.

The vote on constitutional amendment SJR1, which would take money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to pay for new water projects in the state, confronts the water shortages the state has experienced after years of severe drought.

The issues are significant, so study up; The Daily Texan and other local news sources will be reporting frequently on these issues leading up the election. After that, the difficult part — registering to vote by Monday and showing up at the polls — should seem almost easy.