Campus makes early voting easier by walking to polls

By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief

Early voting for the 2018 primary election started Feb. 20 on four of TCC’s five campuses, but the fifth campus has plans to still help its students get to the polls.

TR is the only campus that will not be an early voting polling location, but students interested in voting will be escorted by campus officials to a nearby polling location Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 as part of TR’s Walk the Vote event, said Tara Firmin, TR academic support services coordinator.

“This is our third election season where we’ve taken a group of students over to the Tarrant County Plaza,” Firmin said. “Our campus doesn’t have polling locations like some of the other campuses in the district do, and so our students are a little bit at a disadvantage to kind of engage in that civic process.”

NW, NE and South campuses will host early voting Feb. 27-28 and March 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

SE Campus will host early voting from now until Feb. 23 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 24 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Feb. 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Feb. 26-March 2 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Walk the Vote event this year was planned early enough to incorporate an information session with TR government faculty prior to the walk, she said.

“They’re going to talk about like the specifics of how the primaries are different from general elections,” she said.

Firmin, who helped organize the event, recalled being an 18-year-old who was embarrassed about not knowing how to vote. She said organizing the event was a labor of love to help students be civically engaged.

“More than anything, I want students to understand that they don’t have to have that sense of embarrassment,” she said. “There are people on campus who can hopefully answer their questions in a nonpartisan way so that they can vote what their heart tells them to and what their research tells them to do.”

Those interested should meet in TR’s Idea Store at 10 a.m. Feb. 26 or 2 p.m. Feb. 27. Each day, there will be a 30-minute information session before walking to the polling place.

TR government instructor Corena White and TR government associate professor Rik Sehgal will give the pre-walk information session.
“I’m going to be telling them what the primaries are, which includes who will appear on the ballot,” she said. “And I’ll also mention how low the turnout is in Texas, especially with the 18-29 year olds. It’s very low and, in particular, midterm elections have a low turnout rate.”
White got involved with the event in part because she doesn’t think enough people know about Texas elections, she said.

“Voting is our voice, and if we don’t exercise our vote then somebody is speaking for us,” White said. “Our vote also gives us power, and if we don’t use our power then we’re giving away our power, and I just want to emphasize to the students how important it is to exercise their vote.”