“Unprecedented” surge in voter registration makes 18-to-25-year-olds largest voting block in Travis County

Maya Patel, a junior chemistry major at the University of Texas, spoke Friday about efforts to increase young people's voter registration numbers and participation in the 2018 midterm election.

Maya Patel, a junior chemistry major at the University of Texas, spoke Friday about efforts to increase young people's voter registration numbers and participation in the 2018 midterm election.

Since the 2014 midterm election, the 18-to-25-year-old voter block in Travis County has increased by 6 percent—85,000 people—said Bruce Elfant, Travis County's tax assessor-collector and voter registrar. Young voters are now the largest voting block in the county, he said.

“This is the largest increase of younger registered voters we’ve ever documented here in Travis County,” he said. “We’re excited by what we’re seeing right now with young voters. It’s very important that young voters help shape the government that they want to see.”

As it stands, 39 percent of eligible Travis County 18-to-25-year-olds are registered to vote, he said.

At the close of the fourth day of early voting, a record-setting 10,465 people had cast ballots at one of the two polling locations at the University of Texas, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said. Students, faculty and staff are voting at the Flawn Academic Center, 2400 Inner Campus Drive, and the Perry-Castaneda Library, 101 E. 21st Street, which was added this year.



Maya Patel, a junior chemistry major at the University of Texas, said students are registering to vote in high numbers this year because of the current political environment and concerted efforts by campus groups to get young people civically engaged.

Patel is the interim president for TX Votes, a student organization at the University of Texas that aims to increase electoral participation across campus.



“Before the registration deadline we went into over 260 classrooms with the professors’ permission to register students during their class period,” she said. “We also tabled a lot, encouraged students to register to vote and [distributed] a lot of non-partisan voter information.”

Another tool Patel highlighted is the new BeVotes application for IOS devices. The app, designed by students for students at UT Austin, includes information about what to take to the polls, where to vote in Travis County and how long the lines are, said Susan Nold, executive director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life.

“We’ve been really encouraged this year in the widespread interest in this election and students registering to vote,” Nold said.
By Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Buchanan joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 after completing a master of journalism degree from the University of Texas. She worked as the senior reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition and is now the editor for the company's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition.


MOST RECENT

Corgan Architects presented potential schematic designs for the district's fifth elementary school last year. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)
Dripping Springs ISD prepares to vote for name, principal of new elementary school

The DSISD board of trustees will vote on Jan. 25. The top name in contention is "Cypress Springs Elementary."

Tesla will continue construction of its southeast Travis County manufacturing plant through 2021. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Story to watch in 2021: Tesla’s gigafactory set for completion by year’s end

Tesla is already hiring a number of manufacturing positions for the factory as well as engineers.

Abby Jane Bakeshop held a soft opening Jan. 16-17 in Dripping Springs. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
From pastries to pizza, Abby Jane Bakeshop bringing treats to Dripping Springs

The new bakeshop is set to open Jan. 21 off Fitzhugh Road.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

Photoo of Travis County sign
Austin City Council, Travis County Commissioners Court will hold rare joint session to address 'dire' COVID-19 status

County Judge Andy Brown called the meeting "an opportunity to coordinate responses."

Voters line up during the Dec. 15 runoff election. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legality of ranked-choice voting prompts disagreement between supporters, Austin city attorneys

If a Jan. 11 petition is validated, Austin voters could decide whether to support the implementation a ranked-choice voting system. But is it unconstitutional?

A group of Austin-area school districts is advocating for early distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for school staff members. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin-area school districts advocate for teachers to receive COVID-19 vaccines

Educators in the designated population for early distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in 32 states. Texas was not one of them, according to a Jan. 14 letter signed by 17 Central Texas school districts.

H-E-B is preparing to accept coronavirus vaccine appointments through an online portal. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B launches vaccine portal; Whipped Bakery opens in Leander and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular news from the past week from the Central Texas area.