Camille Rasor | Reporter
Early voting for the Texas primary election opened on Tuesday, and the College Democrats and College Republicans have prepared by working to increase voter turnout and by informing the public about the candidates.
Early voting for the Texas primary will run from Feb. 18-28. Voters can also go to the polls on election day, March 3. Both organizations said they are mainly focusing on local races as a way to get the Waco and McLennan County community involved in these elections.
Saugus, Calif. senior Shelby Boswell, president of Baylor College Republicans, said for the past weeks and months the group has focused their efforts on the elections specifically the U.S. District 17 congressional race.
“Mainly we believe that local politics are some of the best ways to be effective in a community,” Boswell said. “So we try to focus on different races that could improve the area around Baylor as well as Baylor itself.”
The U.S. District 17 seat in the House of Representatives is highly contested this election cycle as the representative who currently holds the office, Bill Flores (R-TX), announced his retirement in September.
“With Bill Flores retiring that’s definitely one that has climbed to the top, not only locally, but nationally,” Lorena freshman Emily Mosley, president of the Baylor College Democrats, said. “It’s one of the seats that they’re looking at, and so I think that one’s going to be very important.”
Flores’ seat is important to the Republican Party, Boswell said because the seat will play a role in the party’s efforts to regain control of the House. The Democratic Party currently holds a 237-197 majority.
“If we’re going to get a majority in the House, we have to have good candidates for the general,” Boswell said. “Primaries are so important to make sure that you get the right candidate.”
In primary elections, voters choose their favorite candidates from one party by choosing either a Democratic ballot or a Republican ballot.
Most candidates’ positions range from being far to one side of the ideological spectrum to a more moderate stance. Mosley said that she believes participating in the primary process is important because it allows each party to find a candidate that reflects the ideas of the majority of the electorate.
In the 2018 midterm elections, Texas saw a highly contentious race between Ted Cruz (R) and Beto O’Rourke (D) for the U.S. Senate. McLennan County voted 61% for Cruz and 38% for O’Rourke according to McLennan County’s public records.
“I think voting in the primaries is especially important because I think we saw in the 2016 election, a lot of people saw very polarized candidates. We didn’t really have a moderate,” Mosley said. “So primaries ensure that we get a more moderate candidate and one that more accurately represents the majority population rather than people who feel strongly either way left or right.”