Fueled by student organizers, young Texans shatter voter turnout records

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2016, Texas ranked 49th out of 50 in voter turnout. This year, the Lone Star State is leading the nation in turnout — and young voters are a large part of that change.

So far, more than 750,000 Texans under 30 have voted in the 2020 election, more than six times the turnout among their age group at this point in 2016.

“You’re doing this for change, your voice does matter, and if you could change the world within five minutes, why not?” first-time voter and freshman at the University of Texas at Austin Genesis Palos said after voting on campus. “I’m part of such an awesome generation who is really politically-charged, so honestly I’ve been waiting since the first day voting opened.”

Over 10,000 people cast a ballot on UT’s campus in the first week of early voting. Student civic engagement groups say that high youth turnout is not a surprise — it is the product of years of work done by students to get their peers to the polls.

“Organizations like Hook the Vote, MOVE Texas, Texas Rising — all of these youth-led organizations have been working extremely hard since all the way back in March to make sure we were properly prepared for this election,” President of TX Votes Janae Stegall said.

TX Votes registers students, hosts information sessions in classrooms, and runs get-out-the-vote messaging online to mobilize and organize young Texans.

“Young people, low propensity voters don’t typically vote in those first few days, first week of early voting,” MOVE Texas communications director Charlie Bonner said. “I think this year is really going to change everything.”

These organizations say this high turnout is part of a larger trend that represents a changing and growing Texas electorate.

“This is not happening in isolation,” Bonner said. “It really is about fundamentally changing the Texas electorate to reflect the people who actually live here.”

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