“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

Austin transportation officials said April 15 the range of corridor construction program projects initiated through the city's 2016 Mobility Bond remain on track for completion by late 2024. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Several Austin corridor mobility projects moving forward in 2021, program on track for 2024 completion

Transportation officials said some corridor program improvements previously planned along Guadalupe Street and East Riverside Drive are being reduced ahead of Project Connect expansions.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Austin FC supporters celebrate the official announcement of the team in January 2019. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
How, where to watch historic first Austin FC match April 17

Check out this list of breweries, pubs and restaurants around Central Texas that are hosting watch parties for April 17's inaugural Austin FC game.

Z'Tejas' chorizo dumplings are served on the Arboretum location's porch. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Z'Tejas to open in Avery Ranch; butcher, deli to open in Dripping Springs and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Maj. Vito Errico, left, and Maj. Jason Zuniga are co-directors of Army Futures Command's Software Factory, for which the first cohort of soldiers started in January. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
From a rifle to a keyboard: Army Futures Command opens Software Factory at downtown ACC campus

Twenty-five soldiers started in January as part of the Software Factory's first cohort. Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be at the Rio Grande campus for a ribbon-cutting April 15.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes leaders and Community First Village residents unveiled the planned third and fourth phases of the Austin development for the formerly homeless April 14. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's Community First Village for the formerly homeless announces 127-acre, 1,400-home expansion

Officials with the community, which is intended for residents who have experienced chronic homelessness, said that two new expansion phases are expected to begin development in 2022.

Photo of a sign that says "Travis County"
Travis County establishes new emergency rental assistance program for 2021

The program will provide $10.7 million in aid to county residents struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic.

Plank Seafood Provisions opened inside The Domain in late March. (Courtesy Richard Casteel)
Seafood spot opens in The Domain; All Star Liquor now serving Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most recent drafts of a Dripping Springs logo and new slogan were presented to Dripping Springs City Council April 13. (Courtesy city of Dripping Springs)
Dripping Springs set for a facelift this summer, with new website, city logo and slogan

The new logo and slogan were developed by a city committee with feedback from city staff and community leaders.