Texas State is leading in student voter turnout, local group says


SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Through early voting, and ahead of Super Tuesday, hundreds of college students have been making their way to polls on campus.

A local nonprofit called MOVE Texas says students at Texas State are leading the way.

They say during the last election, Bobcats outpaced students across the state in voter turnout.

They credit it to an on-campus polling location.

“I feel like voting as a student is so much easier than not as a student, says Texas State senior Kaitlyn Watson.

“I agree,” says friend Alexis Ashbury, also a senior.

It’s a convenience many students fought for.

“I really see Texas State as ground zero for the fight for youth voting rights — really in the country,” says Charlie Bonner, spokesperson for MOVE.

That fight came to a head in 2018, when hays county officials removed this polling location three days into early voting.

Campaign signs line the pathway into the LBJ Student Center, Texas State’s on-campus polling location. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

Bonner was part of a group that successfully overturned that move so that students could have more access.

“Last election, I wanted so bad to be able to just have my voice heard, and who I wanted to represent the party, I voted for and I couldn’t. So this time, it just felt really good to be able to have a voice in it,” says Naomi Mcintosh, a first time voter.

Bonner says there was a 400% voting increase between the 2014 and 2018 midterms on the San Marcos campus.

He says that trend is ticking upward.

“I think young people at Texas State are really making that difference,” Bonner says.

But he says there’s still a lot of untapped potential among young voters for November.

His group is now part of a nationwide effort called +1 the Polls that includes MTV.

The goal is to increase student voter turnout state and nationwide by adding polling locations to campuses, like they did at Texas State.

“MTV and all the partners in this coalition are making resources available to young people to teach them how to advocate at their county level for these campus polling locations, giving them financial resources to hold events, to draw attention to the fight,” Bonner says.

“Texas State is really a critical success story in the youth voter movement,” Bonner says.

UT-Austin added another polling location to its campus this year.

You can now vote at the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center as well as the Perry-Castañeda Library.

Early voting by the numbers

As of Wednesday night, Hays County elections administrator Jennifer Anderson tells KXAN they’ve had 12,381 in person votes for early voting in the primaries.

That’s compared to 7,807 in 2018 and 8,464 in 2016.

Anderson credits the heavier turnout the interest in a presidential election year.

She also says Hays County has grown and voter registration has increased a lot since the last presidential election.

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