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Parties, Term Papers and Elections

The November election will be here before you know it and the last day to register is October 5th. One group that traditionally doesn’t vote in large numbers is students. The University of Houston is taking steps to change that. Bill Stamps has more.


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“Are there any questions about the process or the application that I can answer?”

deputizing classThis room is the size of your average classroom, but it’s the faculty and staff members who are sitting in the student’s seats. That’s because their being deputized. That’s the fancy word for someone who can legally register other people to vote.

In this case, the faculty and staff members will be registering students and other faculty. Juanita Jackson is with UH’s Student Affairs department and helped organize the deputizing class.

“Students have not taking interest in the past. We’ve typically encouraged students in the past, we’re just giving it more of a push this year.”

The new registration deputies are all volunteers. Mathew Mullin works at one of the campus dorms and Victoria Gbenova works for the student newspaper. Both believe more students should exercise their right to vote, but both are aware of some of the factors that keep students from voting:

“Too preoccupied with everything else that’s going on. When I was that age, I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the elections that happened, especially the local ones.”

“They’re lazy; they have a lot of things going on; they think they’re too busy to vote and they don’t think it’s important. And they’re voice doesn’t count, but actually is does. And it’s actually very important that they get registered to vote, even if they don’t vote. They have the ability to go vote. So having the ability to vote, I believe is very important.”

While many in the general population may talk about Senator Hutchison versus Governor Perry, or all the candidates in the upcoming mayor’s race…UH students are more likely to talk about term papers, the Kanye West incident or even the Cougar’s huge win over Oklahoma State on Saturday…but politics? Voting?

Student Jake Daugherty says that’s not on his list.

“I don’t vote. If I see a candidate that I like in an election, I’ll register and vote. I didn’t vote in the last one because I didn’t prefer either candidate.”

Other than tuition increases, Daugherty says most political issues aren’t on student’s minds.

“I don’t think we really see enough thing affecting us really. We sort of hear them talking about it on the news and you hear people talking about it on the street, but we haven’t really seen any of the effects of it personally.”

So the new deputies will have their work cut out for them. Soon they’ll start setting up tables and booths on campus, hoping to catch student’s attention. Whether or not more students will actually vote is unknown. But they do know that none of them can vote, if they don’t register first.

Bill Stamps. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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