A higher than normal voter turnout to the March 6 Texas Primaries was reported in Hays County, which may be a result of a new Student Government initiative.
The correlation between the increase in volunteer deputy registrars, who are deputized by the county to be able to collect filled out voter registration cards, and voter turnout, has experienced an upward swing for the citizens of San Marcos and Texas State students.
Jennifer Anderson, election administrator for the Hays County Election Office, was hired by both the parties and the city to oversee the elections, polling and tabulation of votes. Anderson saw the swell in voter registration and turnout as a direct correlation between more students becoming volunteer deputy registrars and being more involved in politics.
“We have a lot of volunteer deputy registrars that focus on college students… (and) we do have quite a bit of college participation in Hays County.” Anderson said. “I do know that us having a polling location on campus is helpful and I think that increases participation, the candidates spend a lot of time with the college Republicans and Democrat programs and spend a lot of time talking and campaigning to them.”
For the first week of the current March 2018 primary, 4,432 votes were recorded, compared to the first week of the 2016 presidential elections, which saw 4,405 votes. Anderson said the turnout for this gubernatorial election is more along the lines of a presidential election.
In comparison, Hays County Elections Office/Community Impact Newspaper reported on its website during the March 2014 primaries with more than 100,000 registered voters only 3,179 voted in the Democrat primary and 8,814 in the Republican primary.
Emari Shelvin, Spanish and nursing junior and senator for the College of Health Professions, wrote legislation to encourage all Student Government senators to become volunteer deputy registrars. Shelvin said the legislation passed Feb. 26 and will encourage students to register to vote and become involved in the civic process.
“Since we are the leaders, we are the face, we are the organization that is supposed to represent everyone.” Shelvin said. “If they see Student Government senators are getting deputized, then they’ll (say) ‘why isn’t my organization getting involved in getting people to vote?’”
The Student Government website reports the organization has registered more than 500 students but Shelvin said with nearly 40,000 students at Texas State, there is more work to do.
President-elect Brooklyn Boreing, public relations and mass communications junior, said she saw the volunteer deputy registrar program as a first step to increase voter turnout. For the upcoming year, Boreing said student government could implement more days to register students to vote and suggest more polling days at LBJ.
“We have a voice that isn’t exactly being heard right now, if you look at Texas State we make up 40,000 students, a majority of San Marcos and a majority of Hays County…” Boreing said. “If we all went out there and voted we could fill the commissioners court, city council (and judicial positions).”
More information on becoming a volunteer deputy registrar in Hays County can be found here.