Graphic by Quinn Butterfield
Trinity student voting rates tripled from 2014 to 2018 due to campus involvement in the registration process.
The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) released a campus report detailing the percentage of students who voted in the last national election and the percentage of students registered to vote. More than 1,000 campuses from all 50 states participated in the study. Trinity students saw almost a 12 percent increase in registered voters from 76.8 percent in 2014 to 88.8 percent in 2018 and a 16.4 percent voting rate in 2014 compared to a 50.1 percent voting rate in 2018.
This increase may be due to the increased student movement to partner with MOVE Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting students registered to vote. Student organizations including Student Government Association and Trinity Progressives (T-Prog) have partnered with MOVE in the past to register students. Student Carson Bolding, junior and vice president of T-Prog, was involved with T-Prog’s voter registration drive last year.
“Last year, T-Prog did a big voter registration drive leading up to the midterm elections. We tabled in Coates every week and did an especially large push right before the voter registration deadline. All of our officers were deputized, so we were also able to register our friends and classmates whenever was most convenient for them. Because Texas makes it so difficult to register to vote, we wanted to make the process as easy as possible for students who wanted to register, whether that meant meeting them at their dorm room or the library or on their way to class,” Bolding wrote in an email interview.
Jamie Thompson, director of Student Involvement, has noticed student organizations and Student Involvement themselves bringing MOVE Texas on campus.
“Historically, Trinity has partnered with MOVE Texas for voter registration, and that has been a good partnership. Student Government Association and Trinity Progressives, in previous years, has partnered with MOVE. Student Involvement has partnered with MOVE Texas,” Thompson said. “One specific example is this fall during new student orientation, MOVE Texas was in the Bell Center so that first-years and transfers could register to vote in Bexar county along with getting their Mirage picture taken and everything else that occurs in the Bell Center that day. Voter registration has always been a collaborative effort mostly driven by student interest and student organizations.”
David Crockett, chair of the Department of Political Science, believes presidential elections influence this increase in voter registration rates on campus.
“If we are at record numbers, I’m assuming it’s because the presidential election is interesting to [students]. You see the consequences of voting was our current president, and so students are probably highly motivated to either make a change or keep him there. That depends of course on how the students think about this choice. I imagine most could agree that the decision matters a lot, and therefore, they’re motivated to do their part,” Crockett said.
Voter registration increases don’t always turn into a higher voter turnout, especially for those under 30, according to Crockett.
“It might indicate a higher turnout of votes from those aged 18–29, but we say this every four years, and it tends not to materialize, so we’ll see if it’s different this time,” Crockett said.
According to Thompson, a new committee has been formed that will be working together to promote civic engagement.
“There’s a working group that’s formed that has faculty, staff and students working together around two core things. Census count efforts will be the first thing, and voter education, voter registration and voting efforts will be the second. And so the committee has met once and will meet again in early November,” Thompson said.