Young voters scramble to register for midterms

Beto ORourke supporters cheer him on during his speech inside El Centro.

RORY MOORE/THE ET CETERA

Beto O’Rourke supporters cheer him on during his speech inside El Centro.

CARMEN GUZMAN, Editor in Chief

Following his 18th birthday, applied sciences major Seth Fraser is excited to vote for the first time.

“Now it is my turn to vote since I’m old enough,” he said.

Young voters are swept up in bids for Texas governor, attorney general and lieutenant governor. Several campaigns face the uncertainty of single-point leads, driving candidates to rake up enough followers to move the needle.

This involves attracting Texas’ 2.8 million 18- to 24-year-olds.

Beto O’Rourke speaks at El Centro on Oct. 3. (RORY MOORE/THE ETCETERA)

“I’m definitely not Republican,” Fraser said. “I’m going for Beto [O’Rourke].”

O’Rourke has embarked on a campaign tour to visit several colleges, including El Centro on Oct. 3. Similarly, Texas Republicans have ramped up efforts to recruit young voters. Incumbent Republicans such as Rep. Dan Crenshaw have spoken at youth summits.

SEE ALSO: ‘He was in the flesh:’ O’Rourke visit excites El Centro

“I think the governor election is far more interesting than presidential ones,” Fraser said.

Young voters were galvanized by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, leaving states to adjust their respective rights to abortion access – which Texas recently criminalized with few exceptions.

The decision has become a fundamental talking point in left-leaning campaigns. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 70% of 18- to 29-year-olds support abortion access.

“There’s a lot of polarization. I want to vote to help issues and bring everyone together for this election,” Fraser said.

Vote.org plans to spend $10 million in campaigns to encourage voter participation. Since the 2020 presidential election, the organization registered over 381,000 voters.

Organizations such as the League of Women Voters, which focuses on educating new voters, have an increased presence around college campuses.

“More people are interested in current issues than they were two or even four years ago,” said Diane Tasian, president of the League of Women Voters in Dallas.

During Eastfield’s Student Resources Fair on Sept. 6, organizers reported seeing more interested students line up at a registration booth hosted by the organization.

According to the organization, although midterms and local elections have significantly lower records of young voter turnout, recent politics suggest a change in the trend.

“I am delighted to see that young people are focused on current issues,” Tasian said. “I hope that they will use voting guides to help determine which candidates reflect their values.”

Information campaigns to educate new voters about their voting rights and methods have become prominent as early voting approaches.

“A lot of important information about the structure of Texas government isn’t available for young people,” Fraser said. “You have to do more research, but it’s hard to find it.”

Along with voting guides, organizations are actively informing voters about their options.

Students commented on lacking voter knowledge, but interest remains strong as hot-button issues strike closer to home.

“I’m 23, never voted before, but I would like to,” neuroscience major Sammy Martinez said.

Older generation voters remain a prominent demographic, but young voter turnout and registration have steadily increased since 2020.

“Older voters are at an advantage because they’re helped by their knowledge,” Fraser said. “It doesn’t help those who contradict Texas’ current politics.”

Left-leaning voters such as Fraser are hoping that midterms weaken Texas’ Republican stronghold.

With the last day to register on Oct. 11, Texas Democrats and Republicans are holding out for waves of young voters.

“People should turn up,” Fraser said. “There are a lot of eligible people who don’t vote.”