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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Where to vote, how to get there

College+Station+City+Hall+on+Tuesday%2C+Oct.+19%2C+2022.
Photo by Samuel Falade

College Station City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2022.

Many students are finally able to vote for the first time; now, all they have to do is find a way to get to the voting booth.

More college students voted in the 2020 election compared to the 2016 election with 59% of first-year students voting, according to the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education. Due to the Memorial Student Center, or MSC, no longer being offered as an early voting location, students have to find alternative locations. Not every student has access to a car on campus, making off-campus voting sites difficult to access. The Texas A&M chapter of Mobilize, Organize, Vote and Empower, or MOVE Texas, is assisting, alongside Mothers Against Greg Abbot, or MAGA, to organize buses to transport students to the College Station City Hall for early voting in hopes of encouraging students to continue engagement in the community and using their vote as a method of change. 

Computer science junior Aadith Thiruvallarai is the social director of the A&M chapter of MOVE Texas and said he plans to ride with his roommate to city hall to vote.

“We are planning on heading to the city hall Saturday or Sunday during the early voting. I believe [Oct.] 29 or 30,” Thiruvallarai said. 
Thiruvallarai said he previously voted at the MSC because it was easily accessible as a student, but he had to change plans for this year. 

“The MSC was so much easier to work with, especially when I don’t have a car to drive,” Thiruvallarai said. “But now, because it’s at College Station City Hall, there’s a lot of added planning that goes into it.”

Thiruvallarai said that it is essential to encourage students to vote and give them the resources to do so to encourage civic engagement. 

“It’s important for students to have a say in the political world,” Thiruvallarai said. “It starts with having an understanding of what’s going on, and then getting more involved in protests, voting, talking to local representatives, statewide representatives or national.”

Donors helped MOVE Texas raise enough money to organize transportation with the Aggie Spirit Buses, Thiruvallarai said.

“My hope is that everyone can go because we now have this resource,” Thiruvallarai said. “Now the biggest obstacle is making sure people are aware of it and getting the word out.”

Marketing senior Ishika Shah is the project manager at the A&M chapter of MOVE Texas and said her personal voting plan is to drive to city hall.

“I’ll go in the morning before school because I live a minute from city hall,” Shah said. “So, because I have a car, it’s convenient for me.”

MOVE Texas hopes to provide students with the opportunity to vote by having the Aggie Spirit Buses available and running during early voting for students needing transportation to city hall, Shah said. 

“We’re hoping that lots of students get out to the polls since we’ve put in a lot of effort toward organizing these early voting shuttles to make voting possible,” Shah said. 

There will be a bus every 20 minutes, or three buses every hour, and due to early voting being typically less crowded, it is predicted to be a flexible option for students who want to vote in between classes, Shah said.

“It’s directly from campus to city hall and city hall to campus, so there’s no stops in between,” Shah said. “The ride should be 10 minutes, and during early voting, the wait time for the polls is significantly lower.”
In hopes of helping students with the process, MOVE Texas hopes to provide students with the tools needed to maintain political awareness and become involved by voting, Shah said. 

“So we just try to make that information more accessible, because it is important for students to show up and have a voice in these elections,” Shah said. 

Biochemistry and genetics junior Nushrat Rashid is a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, and said she plans on voting at MSC on election day.

“I did early voting here last time, so I’ll probably just come again on Election Day,” Rashid said. 

Although Rashid said the buses are a great resource for students, removing the MSC as an early voting site is a huge problem that students should speak up on.

“It feels like a bandage on the issue,” Rashid said. “The fact that they would take [the MSC] away for early voting is beyond frustrating and will hurt students’ ability to vote.” 

As a member of SDS, Rashid said it’s important for students to take an active role in their community by utilizing the resources available. 

“I think a lot of people have cynicism over the situation, but we need to do something about it,” Rashid said. “Use what you can.”

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