Turnout low at campus gubernatorial voting station

Despite signs outside of the Brown-Lupton University Union signaling to people passing by that the university is one of 44 early voting locations in Tarrant County, not many people have stopped to vote at the location just outside of the 1873 Cafe & Sports Grill.

Rena Brown, lead clerk at the early voting center on campus, said voter turnout has been very low all over the city. She said the main attraction in this primary election is the race for governor, but even that has not drawn a crowd.

“This is not a real popular election,” Brown said. “People aren’t that in tune with what’s going on in Texas.”

She said presidential primaries generate more excitement and more people vote in them.

Only 129 people have voted on campus since early voting began last Tuesday, according to Tarrant County records.

Brian Portugal, adjunct political science professor, said voters are less familiar with candidates and the issues during midterm elections. He said that during presidential elections, citizens are bombarded by the candidates and their platforms, but local elections get less media attention.

Even with the difference in media coverage, Portugal said people should be equally concerned with elections on the national and local level.

The recent cold and snowy weather, Brown said, are other reasons for low voter turnout because when the weather is better, more people usually come to vote.

While she did not have exact numbers, Brown said many students showed up ready to vote but were unable to because they were not registered in Tarrant County. She said people can go to the Tarrant County Election Center to file papers in order to vote in Tarrant County. But these late registrants will not be able to vote in next week’s regular election because they will not have been registered in the county for the minimum 30-day period, Brown said.

Kayla Bridge, a freshman graphic design major, said she cannot use the early voting location on campus to cast her ballot because she is already registered to vote in Montgomery County and will not have time to go to the Tarrant County Election Center because of her busy schedule.

According to the Tarrant County Early Voting Reports online, since voting began last Tuesday, 28,505 people in the county have voted as of Wednesday night. By comparison, 10,439 people voted on the first day of early voting during the 2008 presidential primaries, according to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article.

Hannah Goble, assistant political science professor, said there are several things campaigns and political parties can do to get numbers similar to the high early voting numbers from 2008.

“One of the best ways to get people to vote is to canvass,” Goble said. “Go door-to-door and talk to people about if they’re registered and if they know to vote.”

Goble said campaigns and parties typically do not want to increase overall turnout. She said the candidates only want high turnout among their known supporters.

“Now parties engage in targeted mobilization, which means only small subsets of the population are contacted about early voting,” Goble said.

She said having a polling place on campus is great for encouraging a higher turnout of college students.

“It helps cut down on the hassle of it,” Goble said. “Hopefully more students can take advantage of having a convenient polling place and get out and vote.”

Brown said that during the last presidential election, the TCU College Republicans and TCU Democrats contacted her to make sure they could hold early voting events outside of the polling location. She said she has not been contacted this year to inquire about any events during the early voting period.

2010 Early and Regular Voting in Tarrant County

Early voting on campus ends Thursday at 7 p.m.

County-wide early voting ends Friday at 7 p.m.

Regular voting begins Tuesday at 7 a.m.

The BLUU is not a regular voting location.

For a full list of voting sites visit tarrantcounty.com/eVote