By Helena Hunt, Staff Writer
Student government and several other on-campus organizations are working to register student voters, especially before the joint general election that takes place today.
“My office has a table in the SUB every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where we’re waiting to answer questions, register students to vote,” said Houston junior Steven Newcomb, student government’s external vice president. “We can mail it off or take it to them ourselves. We’re there every Wednesday, and we’ll continue to do that for the rest of the semester and next year too.”
Those students wishing to register at the booth must be residents of Texas. Students from out of state must have a valid Texas identification card, including a license or passport, in order to register. By registering as Texas residents, they will void their right to vote as citizens of their own states.
Residents of cities outside McLennan County may also register to vote in Waco, but they will not be able to participate in their own county’s elections.
“A lot of students aren’t from McLennan County, so they might be registered to vote but they don’t know how to do the absentee ballot or things like that,” said Little Rock, Ark., junior Sara Grove, president of College Republicans. “Just for the few years they’re here at Baylor, they can move their registration to McLennan County and then when they move back home or wherever else they go after college they can easily just register again. That way they can still be involved in the voting process.”
Although registration forms must be completed at least thirty days before an election, those students who are already registered in McLennan County may head to the Waco Convention Center, First Baptist Church of Woodway, and multiple other locations to participate in today’s election. A full list of polling locations may be found on McLennan County’s website. In future, Newcomb said, Baylor’s own campus may be a polling site as well.
The seven propositions up for a vote during today’s election touch on tax exemptions, road construction, and the allocation of funds to highway construction, an issue that is of particular importance to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
“One of the propositions [Proposition 7] is for more funding for the state highways. I know that that proposition is one the governor is particularly pushing for,” said Grove.
Grove and the president of the Baylor Democrats, Medford, Ore., Micah Furlong, have also been trying to put together a voter registration drive. Baylor requires all such drives to be bi-partisan, so the two clubs must work together to register voters, Furlong said.
Their efforts to work together have been complicated by the state’s requirements for voter registration. Any member of the public looking to register voters must be deputized by the state in the county that they vote in. The Baylor Democrats have no members from within McLennan County, and have therefore been unable to register other students to vote.
By working with the College Republicans, however, both organizations may have a chance to start their own registration drive.
“It is possible that the Republicans could have one person there at all times and the rest of us helping to register to vote,” said Furlong. “The reason that I’m so frustrated by this is the Republicans can’t register people to vote without us.”
Grove hopes to get voter registration up and running before next semester so that students will have ample time to register before the presidential elections of 2016.
“You’re deciding the future of our society. People are so convinced that voting means nothing that they prove themselves right. If everyone in this country voted, then we would have a vastly different country than we do now,” said Furlong.