With last Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate that broke CNBC’s viewership records, all eyes are on national politics. Yet, today’s elections will arguably make a greater difference on the lives of Texans. The election for the next president won’t happen for another year, but that shouldn’t deter voters from showing up at their local voting booth for today’s elections.
The voting taking place today involves seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, covering a number of different topics ranging from taxes to fund public education to extending hunting and fishing rights. At least one of the propositions is bound to affect a number of students, and it’s important they have a say in whether or not they are passed.
Last year’s midterm elections had the lowest turnout of 18–29-year-old voters ever recorded, at a shocking 19.9 percent. The FAC, one of the most accessible voting sites for UT students, had the seventh lowest early voter turnout rate in Travis Country last week. Although an overwhelming majority of students missed the early voting opportunity, those registered should make it to the polls this afternoon.
Low voter turnout has a bigger impact than perpetuating apathy toward local politics — it allows certain people, usually with more extreme ideologies, to control the laws and amendments that are passed. If the only people who are voting are those leaning incredibly far right or left, the results are sure to disproportionately benefit those constituencies. Although students might feel as though local elections are uninteresting or unimportant, they are still affected by the outcome. Rather than allowing a small turnout to determine the results, everyone should show up and use their voices.
Anyone on Twitter or Facebook can see there are pertinent issues affecting our generation. No longer can we, as younger voters, turn a blind eye to issues concerning public policy. Campus carry is one such example. In May, Texas legislators voted on and passed the law that will eventually allow students with CHLs to carry a gun on campus. Protests such as Campus Dildo Carry and the teacher-led Gun-Free UT clearly show the power legislators have over the University. With an increased political efficacy among students, young voices could be elevated to have a say in decisions such as these.
Voting in local elections has both historical and tangible implications. Not only does the act honor the privilege we’ve been afforded to participate in governmental business, it also ensures that the power remains in the sovereignty of the people.
While voting today will not guarantee any particular outcome, voters effectively exercise the privilege to influence decisions that affect our everyday lives. Voting is a process that can be done while walking from one class to another — considering the potential outcome, the effort is worth it.