Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo casts her vote on campus
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and President Renu Khator on Thursday urged students to vote in the 2019 elections by using the University of Houston polling location to cast their ballots.
The polling location in the Student Center South is open to anyone registered to vote in Harris county and is the first early voting location at UH. In the past, UH has had a voting location on campus on election day, but no location during early voting.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of something,” Hidalgo said. “It’s not just the universities. I think the most beautiful side of expanding the access to vote is lifelong voters, regardless of their opinions.”
The polling location has helped 219 people cast their votes, as of Wednesday, since early voting began Monday. The booths have the opportunity to help more than 40,000 students, professors and staff members vote, if all took advantage of the new location.
We are always saying, ‘young people don’t vote,” Hidalgo said, “and we need to ask ourselves is it because they don’t want to vote, or is it because we make it harder for them to vote?”
Along with UH, Texas Southern University also received an early voting location. The two schools located in the Third Ward bring the number of college campuses that double as early voting locations up to eight.
In the future, Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman said she would love to put more polling locations on college campuses, but there’s a lot that goes into creating one.
“Parking is one and (UH) has wonderfully, graciously offered parking to our workers,” Trautman said. “Electioneering has to happen on campus as well, you have to be agreeable to that, where candidates come and campaign… A contract has to be developed and agreed to as well, but we will look into it determining on the need and the requests.”
This year, instead of going to a specific precinct voters can now vote at any polling location on election day.
Early voting lasts until Nov. 1 and anyone, students or not, who is registered to vote can pop in from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week to cast their ballot. Election day is Nov. 5.
“We are certainly excited to have the voting location here,” Khator said. “We’ll try to promote, try to make sure students come out and exercise their most important right, their right to choose, their right to democracy.”