UT students and faculty could make a big impact on primary elections

Friday is the last day for early voting during the 2016 primary elections and one group of people who have come out in large numbers this year are students.

Students at the University of Texas are hitting the polls in larger numbers than previous early voting primary elections.

“I think it's a combination of a lot of the activities the school's been doing, like Hook the Vote, and during election season there's people everyone registering you to vote,” said Sammy Minkowitz who is a member of the College Republicans. 

“UT Votes was able to register just over 430 people in the week leading up to the deadline for registration in order to vote for the primary,” Tessa Tigar-Cross who works with UT Votes said. 

As of Wednesday night, the Travis County Clerk's office reported more than 3,900 students and faculty voted at the University of Texas Flawn Academic Center during early voting primaries. That's triple the number of early ballots cast at the university's only polling site during the 2014 primary.

“I'm just really glad to be alive in a time when we have so much involvement from people in my age group that are really concerned about the future of our country,” said Joseph Trahan with the University Democrats. 

College groups have been coming up with creative ways to try and increase voting numbers on campus, but democrats and republicans said that's only part of the reason students are heading to the polls.

“Also, people know about the candidates. A lot of the candidates have name recognition, especially in Texas. Not only is there Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, but we have Ted Cruz, our senator, running,” said Minkowitz. 

“With Bernie Sanders running and Hillary Clinton running, we have the possibility of one the first female president, or Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, who's shown himself to try and be the champion of a lot of the youth, specifically those who are in college debt,” Trahan said.  

The FAC is also one of the most popular early voting locations in Travis County this election. Second only to the Randall’s at Research and Braker Lane.

“This election is going to have repercussions for our lives many decades in the future and so we're trying to make sure that the decisions we make now will not come back to bite us in the future,” Trahan said.

Political groups on campus hope the inspiration for students to make their voice heard doesn't fade out before Super Tuesday. Because this year student voters could be the difference between which candidate goes home with a win and who leaves the race for the White House empty handed.

“A lot of times I hear students say that my vote won't matter. It's extremely important for students to go vote because Texas has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country. We ranked dead last last time in the primaries, so in order to have your vote count, there is no other state that your vote is going to count as much as it does in Texas,” said Tigar-Cross. 

There is a huge disparity of which parties are voting at UT's campus.
About 3,400 democrats have cast their ballot at the university. Meanwhile, only about 500 republicans hit the polls at UT so far.
               
The last two days of early voting, Thursday and Friday, typically have the largest turnout and Super Tuesday is right around the corner on March 1.

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