Students exercise voting rights

On Super Tuesday, students proudly displayed their decision to participate in the 2016 US Presidential Primary election with a small, oval “I voted” sticker.

For students like Channelview senior Ashley Ramos, this primary was the first chance to vote in the presidential elections.

Ramos, who voted in last year’s state elections said she was voting yesterday because she thinks her opinion matters.

“The only difference between this year’s and last year’s is the scale,” Ramos said.

Like many students, Ramos does not have a car but was able to make it to the poll by riding with her boyfriend to the polling station.

For other students, transportation causes complications. Fort Worth Senior Laura Mahler is registered in Tarrant County and cannot vote in McLennan County.

Rather than making the drive back home, Mahler opted to do absentee voting. Absentee voting is when a person is unable to attend a polling station in their county and sends their ballot in by mail.

Mahler knew she wasn’t going to be able to return to Tarrant County to vote on Tuesday, so she sent her ballot in early.

“I think important election days should be national holidays,” Mahler said with a laugh.

Absentee voting is not without setbacks. In Texas, the absentee ballots must be received by February 19 in order to be counted in the March 1 election.

Other risks include ballot getting misplaced.

“I’ve always voted absentee, and I’m always paranoid that something will happen to my ballot in the mail and my vote won’t be counted,” Mahler said.

Ramos said she considered voting absentee but decided against it because going to the poll on Tuesday was better for her schedule.

She described the experience as nerve-wracking and unsettling, especially because she didn’t see many young voters.

“The low turnout was bothersome,” Ramos said.

According to US Census data, adults from ages 18 to 25 have consistently voted in lower numbers than any other demographic since 1964.

Ramos expressed her distaste for the widely held sentiment that young adults don’t vote.

“It frustrates me because that is giving others the chance to mold our political future without our input,” Ramos said.

However, students like Brownsville junior Danny Benavidez choose not to vote out of a sense of duty.

Calling himself a “principled non-voter,” Benavidez believes that his generation will influence politics through other means.

Benavidez hopes that the large increase in communication through the Internet will allow people to give up on regular currency in exchange for electronic currency like Bitcoin and services outside the regular market like Uber and Airbnb.

“When people develop innovations such as these, it causes fear in the politicians that we might someday live in a world without them, and that scares them,” Benavidez said.

Benavidez does not shy from politics and reads input from public choice economists and theorists in his free time, where he said he learned that the incentives are similar for every politician.

“Even then, I learned that my vote, despite searching up every policy of every candidate and staying up to date with the bureaucracy, was just the same as the person who wanted a lazy way to affect the political system,” Benavidez said.