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‘We will see a change’: UTD campus organizations encourage young Latinos to register to vote

A young woman speaks into a teal megaphone in next to a table on the University of Texas at Dallas campus.
Juan Salinas II
/
KERA
A University of Texas at Dallas student uses a megaphone to encourage others to register to vote during an event on campus on Sept. 19, 2023, in Richardson.

As the last day to register to vote in this fall’s election nears, two University of Texas at Dallas student organizations are working to get more Latino voters to the polls.

About a third of eligible voters in Texas are Latino — and that number is only projected to grow.

“If we continue to teach and to get people registered to vote, we will see a change,” said Ernesto Aguilar, vice president of the campus chapter of Jolt, which engages Latino voters in Texas.

The group was one of several registering new voters on UTD’s campus Tuesday as part of National Voter Registration Day.

Aguilar said he wants to help young Latinos realize their voices matter because voting is often discouraged within the Hispanic community.

He said young Latinos often don’t have parents who aren’t – or can’t be – involved in the political process. And, the current political climate can be demoralizing, Aguilar added.

Nathalia Patricio, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens at UTD, said it’s important to teach other Hispanics about the voting process. She also spent National Voter Registration Day helping people on campus register to vote.

A UTD student stands in front of a table covered in a purple cloth and papers.
Juan Salinas II
/
KERA
A UTD student checks if she is registered to vote at an event on campus on Sept. 19, 2023.

“It's nice to see a familiar face,” She said. “Someone that looks like you and shows you the process through it. Because we're learning ourselves, so we want to pass that along.”

Patricio said she wants to help young Latinos realize their voice matters.

It can be a little bit daunting to vote because you feel like your vote doesn't count,” she said. “That's definitely not the case.”

Sarai Diaz and Abril Cruz both registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day and will be first-time voters in this upcoming election.

Diaz just turned 18 and Cruz is 19.

While the idea of getting free goodies was the reason to check out the booths, issues like justice reforms, voting and women’s rights are what compelled them to register

Diaz said she wants to fulfill her civic duty.

“It's just good to be an active member of society,” she said.

The last day to register to vote in this fall’s elections is October 10.

Juan Salinas II is a KERA news intern. Got a tip? Email Juan at jsalinas@kera.org. You can follow Juan on Twitter @4nsmiley.

Juan Salinas II is a KERA news intern. He previously worked at the Fort Worth Report as a reporting fellow. He is a Tarrant County College transfer student who is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas at Arlington. He was born and raised in the North Side of Fort Worth. He hopes for an opportunity to do meaningful news coverage during his time at KERA.