By Scott Wilhite
Voting turnout among the electorate has not been trending well over the last decade. In fact, the Texas Secretary of State website, which maintains all voter data for the state, reports that in 1998, 67 percent of registered voters participated in the November mid-term election in Titus County. That number dropped to 39 percent in 2010.
Even with polarizing issues, such as marriage equality and abortion, too many people don’t take the time nowadays to cast their votes.
In an attempt to change that downward trend and to help generate interest in this year’s mid-term election, Alpha Mu Chi, Phi Theta Kappa’s local chapter, began a campus-wide voter registration drive in September.
“The campaign to register students has largely been a success, “Alpha Mu Chi Adviser Dr. Melissa Weinbrenner said. “I know that we have collected and sent in over 200 voter registration cards.”
The organization is also offering some extra incentive to get students to head to the polls this fall. Alpha Mu Chi is providing students an opportunity to win an HP 14 Pavilion Touch Smart laptop just for voting early.
In order to enter the drawing, students must be registered to vote, vote early, then fill out a card with their name, county and phone number and drop it into a box located in the SUB. Early voting started on Oct. 20 and will run through Oct. 31.
The drawing will take place on Election Day, Nov. 4, at 12:30 p.m. in the SUB.
Besides races for governor, lieutenantgovernor, attorney general and several other statewide offices, the college also has two propositions on the mid-term ballot.
Proposition one keeps the current 10-cent tax cap for maintenance and operation, but allows voter approval of repair, restoration and improvement bonds.
The second proposition calls for voter approval of $19.9 million in bonds to fund repair of existing college classrooms and infrastructure that is broken or worn out. If the two measures pass, taxes would be raised 3.6 cents per $100 valuation for Titus, Camp and Morris residents.
Alpha Mu Chi President Ashley Hall said the group decided to host the registration drive after she discovered last year that only two people in her class of 25-30 students had voted in the last election.
“That was very discouraging to me because we are the next generation of leaders in our society,” Hall said. “And, if we don’t start taking action and being a part of the decisions and changes happening now, then what’s to say that we will when it is our generation that is suppose to be leading our nation.”
Hall said Phi Theta Kappa members Chris Hamilton and Kayleah Cumpian worked on the idea for the computer giveaway. She said the hope is that the contest will encourage students to take part in the voting process.
“Any student who is going to vote this year should do so early and put their name in the contest to win the laptop,” Hall said.