Don’t miss your last chance to vote — and make history — this year
Texas has continuously shattered voter turnout records since early voting started in the state on Oct. 13. Through Monday, Oct. 26, after 14 days of early voting, 7,802,505 people had cast their ballots in Texas. That is almost 50 percent of the total number of registered voters in the state. For reference, around 8.5 million votes were cast in Texas in 2016 in total — this number includes ballots cast through the entire early voting period and on election day.
The numbers are even more staggering here in Harris County. As of Monday, 1,151,399 votes had been cast in Harris County. In 2016, the total number of votes in Harris County was 1,219,209. By the time you read this, it is very likely that Harris County will have eclipsed its 2016 vote total.
Those numbers are significant for a couple of reasons. First, it means that turnout is unprecedentedly high. In a state known for its voter suppression, that means the results we see this year may not be consistent with those we’ve seen in the past. Despite various obstacles, such as a lack of online voting registration and strict mail-in voting restrictions, voters are showing up to the polls. Early voting numbers hint at a much more promising turnout than we’ve seen for past elections.
Secondly, this explosion in turnout means that many voting blocs are voting at higher rates than ever before — especially younger voters. As of Monday, over 800,000 people between the ages of 18 and 30 had already voted in Texas, compared to just 200,000 at this point in 2016. Young people in Texas are also leading other battleground states in terms of their share of the total early vote. If this does end up being the year Texas turns blue, Democrats may have young voters to thank. Nationally, almost 70 percent of voters age 18-29 voted Democrat in the 2018 midterms, and Biden is leading among polls of youth voters.
And yes, we’re calling Texas a battleground state. Although the state has voted for the Republican party’s presidential candidate ever since Ronald Reagan in 1980 and is widely considered red, recent elections suggest it’s actually quite purple. In recent memory, this was proven in the 2018 midterms when incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz beat Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke with only 50.9 percent of the vote. Recent polls have come to different conclusions about whether President Donald Trump or Joe Biden is leading in Texas this election, but they all make one thing clear — the race for president is neck to neck. Voting in Texas this election could mean making political history.
It’s been said before and we’ll say it again: Vote if you are eligible. If you’re voting in Harris County, Rice Stadium is open for early voting almost every day until Oct. 30 with short lines and safety precautions for you to vote quickly and safely. If voting at 2 a.m. is more your style, Harris County has eight 24-hour polling locations open Oct. 29. If you’re voting elsewhere, try to vote early to avoid long lines and ensure you can cast your ballot. Make a plan to vote, no matter where or how you want to vote.
Young people have the power to make a difference in this election — in Texas and across the country. Now is the time to change our reputation of being disengaged and disinterested in politics. We should use this moment to get engaged, vote and continue using activism to shape our communities after the election.
Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Rishab Ramapriyan, Ivanka Perez, Amy Qin, Elizabeth Hergert, Ella Feldman, Katelyn Landry, Rynd Morgan, Savannah Kuchar, Ben Baker-Katz, Simona Matovic and Tina Liu.
More from The Rice Thresher
Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.
This week marks the last issue of the Thresher for the year, and for the seniors like myself, our last issue ever. I have been a part of the Thresher since freshman year. And it would not be an exaggeration to say it has defined my Rice experience. As someone pursuing a career in journalism after graduation, there has been no better place to learn than at this paper.
In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.