Young voter participation in the primaries is important because the policies that are important to young people are different from the policies that are important to older people, and having that perspective in politics is “fundamentally needed right now,” said Joanne Green, a TCU professor of political science.
Early voting for the Texas primaries, determining the Democratic and Republican candidates who will compete in the general elections this fall, began on Monday.
The selection of these candidates is of “pivotal importance” for determining the direction the Democratic or Republican party is headed, whether that be more conservative, moderate or progressive, Green said.
“Particularly if you think about what’s going on in both political parties right now, there’s really a struggle for ‘where is the party going to go?’ And right now, primaries are an opportunity for the party voters to really have their say,” Green said.
And since voter turnout in the primaries is historically low, the voices of those who do vote are amplified.
TCU assistant professor of political science Matthew Montgomery said the people who are the most extreme ideologically in either political party are often the ones who show up to vote at primaries. This is part of why polarization occurs over time, especially in Congress and in the state legislator, Montgomery said.
“And it seems to have disenfranchised a bunch of folks in the middle who aren’t all that politically extreme,” Montgomery said.
Green said when an entire segment of the population is not voting, it’s very easy to ignore them.
“You have to think about when you’re voting, you are essentially representing others like you. So when you go out to vote it makes politicians pay attention to young people and the agenda that’s important to young people,” Green said. “We need to have that voice,” she added.
There are several early voting locations less than 15 minutes from TCU’s campus where students can vote if they are registered in Tarrant County.
Participating in early voting is the “most convenient” way for students to vote because lines are usually shorter and the time frame to vote is longer, Green said.
Early voting ends on Feb. 25 before the Texas primary election on March 1. Voter registration can be checked through the Texas Secretary of State’s website, and early voting information is available on Tarrant County’s elections office’s website.