By Trenton Garza
As Republicans wrap up their convention activities in Tampa, Flo., Democrats converge on Charlotte, SC prepared to conduct official business of approving the party platform and nominating Barack Obama and Joe Biden for re-election.
All the while activists are fast at work contacting folks informing them as to why their candidate is better and ensuring their supporters are registered to vote.
I am an activist, my constituency, College Democrats.
Nevertheless, I have a message here for all, because I care about informing voters. So here it is, my nonpartisan explanation of voting so we are all on the same playing field.
The 2008 general election saw 131 million voting Americans, the largest voter turnout in our nation’s history, and though the turnout rate of young people was 51 percent, our group made up only 17 percent of the electorate.
That same year, McLennan County’s Precinct 3, home to Baylor’s campus and the surrounding area inhabited by many Baylor students, yielded a turnout of 62 percent, the same as the average turnout in other areas of McLennan County.
Just two years later, turnout for the 2010 general election peaked at a mere 10 percent in Precinct 3, half that of the county’s turnout.
There is an issue at hand among our peers, and the first step is acknowledging there is a problem.
Given that the 2010 election was a midterm election, which does not produce the turnouts of presidential elections, and that, as I recall from hours outside canvassing the neighborhoods of Waco, that it was a very rainy fourth of November, expecting turnout in the 62 percent range is out of the question.
However, when only 10 percent show up to vote, there is reason for concern.
Therefore, here is my call to service: Uphold your civic duty and vote.
I understand if it comes across as scary, what with all those forms and very serious language above the boxes, then the stories of confusion at the polling places. Nevertheless, none of this should veer you away from what is rightfully yours as an American.
Going back to the data, as of two years ago only 3,643 people were registered to vote here in Precinct 3, a low number considering Baylor’s total enrollment of 15,209.
The first step to changing all of this is to register to vote; you have until Oct. 9 before you will not be eligible to vote in this year’s general election. You can always access the online registration form on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
In addition, I, like plenty of others, are voter registrars who took an oath to carry out the duty of registering voters under the authority of the county election clerk.
In all reality, it sounds much cooler than it actually is.
Equally important is comprehension of just how this whole process works.
Where you register is important. The residency determines which precinct in which county you vote in.
If you registered in Bexar County down in San Antonio and show up to Knox Hall at the Texas Ranger Museum on Election Day to vote, you will be seriously disappointed because you will not have access to a McLennan County ballot.
Know where you are registered and if it needs changing, you still have time. If you are registered back home and do not plan to travel home during early voting time or election day, request to vote early by mail.
To do this, you fill out an application to request a ballot by mail and send it to your county’s election clerk. They will send you a ballot, at which point you fill it out and send it back to the election clerk.
Make no mistake, this can be a tedious process — I am speaking from experience here.
This brings me to my final point. During my time as president of Baylor Democrats, we had a project to gather information and create a concise resource for all to use.
I highly suggest accessing the Baylor Democrats election center available on the organization’s website at www.baylordemocrats.org.
Trenton Garza is a junior political science major from Bushland and is the president of the Texas College Democrats.