SGA pushes Brookhaven Votes before Nov. elections

By Phil Pastor 


Senior Staff Writer 



Brookhaven College students gathered around a table in the Commons Courtyard to take advantage of a final opportunity to register for the Nov. 5, 2014 Texas Gubernatorial Elections.The Brookhaven Student Government Association approved Brookhaven Votes in late December 2013 and has been joined by other organizations of the campus with the goal of registering at least 1,000 students to vote.Since the beginning of August, the Brookhaven Votes team has worked to encourage students to learn more about their voice in the government.

As of Oct. 8, the coalition had reached more than the intended goal, registering 1,026 students, Matthew Saoit, Senator of the Student Government, said.

“We have been giving a huge effort in our campus to get people to vote … to let them know the voting statistics in Texas and what is at stake in letting their voices be heard,” Saoit said. The Brookhaven Votes committee is planning phase two to get students to actually vote at polls in addition to registering.

According to the 2013 Texas Civic Health Index, Texas was among the lowest states in civic engagement with a voting turnout of 36 percent, the worst in the country.

Even in presidential elections, which attract the most voters in the nation, Texas has one of the lowest turnouts. Only Hawaii, West Virginia and Oklahoma had fewer voters in the 2013 presidential election.

“The issue is not registering students but the young voter turnout,” Sandy Gonzalez, president of IGNITE, said. “There is so much to know about the parties and candidates. And for most of these students, it will be their first time voting.” The coalition plans not only to inform students about the candidates and voting locations, but also provide rides to those polls.

According to dallasnews. com, Utah, holding the youngest median voting age under Texas, topped Texas youth by an average 3.75 percent in turnouts. “Y’all are the youth, but your age group is one of the lowest turnouts in the state of Texas,” deputy register Jerri Yoss said.

Due to the voter ID law ruling by the Supreme Court last year, a citizen certificate, military identification card, United States passport or any valid photo ID issued by the Department of Public Safety is required to vote.

Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas are appealing to the Supreme Court for less restrictive voting conditions. The Texas trial ruled that a student ID is not acceptable, but a concealed weapon permit is. “The younger crowds are being marginalized, and we feel like those groups are being discriminated,” Saoit said.

As of Oct. 10, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos had blocked Texas from enforcing voter ID requirements, which may lighten the strain on minority turnouts in the future.

Early voting dates will begin Monday, Oct. 20. The last day to receive the voting ballot by mail is Nov. 4, which is the voting day. Requirements and locations of local polling locations can be found at