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Walk2Vote sparks involvement with politics in students


The Student Government Association hosted state Sen. Sylvia Garcia and city councilman Steve Le at the event. | Courtesy of SGA

The Student Government Association’s voter-turnout initiatives culminated in Coogs Vote, a rally sponsored by SGA, Student Program Board and Walk2Vote, on Tuesday.

SGA has sponsored voter-registration drives in the past, said Director of External Affairs Delaney Catlettstout. Similar to the registration drive, SGA used a national movement in Walk2Vote to promote civic engagement on campus.

“I registered to vote when I got my driver’s license,” said psychology junior Ogechukwu Ofomata. She said this is her first time voting, and the SGA event helped get her to the polls.

The Walk2Vote initiative began at UH-Downtown during the 2012 presidential election and has spread to schools in Iowa, Indiana and Florida. It welcomes all students who wanted to be part of the political process.

“We organized an event in conjunction with National Voter Registration Day, where we registered over 500 people,” Catlettstout said.

Catlettstout learned of the program during Houston’s last mayoral election. She praised John Locke, Walk2Vote co-founder and former president of UH-Downtown’s SGA, who spoke at the rally.

Locke began with a short speech and quizzed students on their knowledge of local representatives.

“You can literally decide a local election with a successful Walk2Vote event,” Locke said about the program, noting the fragile nature of down-ballot and off-year elections. “The idea is to empower millennials to take ownership of their democracy and get involved beyond voting.”

Locke pointed to various ways to persuade young people into attending such as prizes handed out for answering questions, celebrity appearances and the opportunity to speak with local government officials.

“I grew up in a lower economic class and I never had a lot of exposure to really successful people,” Locke said. “I went to my first Walk2Vote and there were judges. There was the mayor. It was an empowering experience.”

Other speakers included Sen. Sylvia Garcia and councilman Steve Le. Also scheduled to speak was Rep. Sarah Davis, who was unable to attend due to illness.

The event began in the Student Center South Ballroom, where students met up and traveled to the Palm Center to cast their ballot.

A raffle was held featuring various prizes including signed balls from UH athletic programs as well as sideline passes to the upcoming football game against Tulane University.

Attendees were encouraged to return to the UC after voting for an SGA-sponsored screening of “The Purge: Election Year.”

“Everyone needs to vote because your vote is your voice,” Catlettstout said. “It can have a big impact on the community.”

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