UTEP Promotes Voter Outreach; Early Voting Available on Campus
Last Updated on October 22, 2018 at 12:00 AM
Originally published October 22, 2018
By Jesse C. Martinez
As Election Day nears, faculty and staff at The University of Texas at El Paso are offering their time to promote voter outreach and ensure that students are equipped with the tools they need to cast their ballots for the Nov. 6 election.
The UTEP Center for Civic Engagement hosted several events to give students the opportunity to register to vote. Volunteers approached students at Leech Grove, in front of Centennial Plaza and other locations across campus to make sure they were ready for Election Day.
“Overall, the UTEP community (faculty, staff, and students) did a wonderful job of promoting voter outreach through various efforts,” said Jennifer Rodriguez, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement. “Although we did register quite a few students and community members, the work is not done yet. We will be pushing more to get out to vote. UTEP has two days allocated for early voting and we will continue to push for more voter engagement as it is important that as a community, our voices are heard to make a difference.”
Registered voters will have the opportunity to cast their ballots early from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, and Friday, Nov. 2, in the Andesite Room at Union Building East.
Some of the faculty and staff members who helped with voter registration efforts said they met many students who were already registered to vote. Jose D. Villalobos, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, said it is due, in part, to students’ motivation to stay informed.
“Our campus has really gone a long way in our students being committed to register to vote,” Villalobos said. “It’s part of UTEP’s commitment to community engagement.”
Rodrigo Blancas, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences, registered to vote earlier this year when he received his driver’s license. When early voting began Monday morning, Oct. 22, Blancas immediately cast his ballot.
“I think everyone should vote to have a say and decide the future of our country,” Blancas said. “It is important to have a voice in what decision to make. Even one vote could make the difference. Your vote could be the deciding vote.”
Cristian Botello, president of the Student Government Association, encourages students to vote, whether during the early voting period or on Election Day.
“As long as you vote, that’s what matters,” Botello said. “Especially in the midterm election — these are the people who represent you and make big decisions that affect all of our lives.”
Botello said a lot of students are keeping an eye on this election because of of the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso.
Villalobos agreed, stating that media coverage surrounding the senate race along with the controversy around U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation has “energized” people to vote.
To see how your vote can have a direct affect, Villalobos said it is important to pay attention to local elections.
“What most immediately affects people is at a local level,” Villalobos said. “The local level has a tangent that ties into (national issues).” He added that watching the local news will help you stay informed about what is happening in the community.
In addition to the senate race, other major Texas races include governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, U.S. representative - District 16, which covers the majority of El Paso County, and District 23, which covers a large portion of West Texas including Socorro, Van Horn, Fort Stockton, Del Rio and Eagle Pass. At a local level, the seat for county commissioner for Precinct 4 as well as several city council seats are contested.
Voters can vote early at any of the early voting locations across the county through Nov. 2. The El Paso County elections department has a list of early voting locations on its website.
For students who do not reside in El Paso County, visit vote.org to learn more about absentee voting.