Mac to host drive-through voter registration on Monday

If you will be 18 or older on Nov. 3 and have not registered, Oct. 5 is the last day to register to vote in the 2020 election


Dave Winter

With the help of League of Women Voters Club volunteer Stephanie Land, senior Vanessa Lee registers to vote during the curbside voter registration drive in front of the main entrance of the school on Sept. 18. The club registered 10 voters (nine students) during the drive that day.

Zazie Bryant, Knight managing editor

Ask any high school student and they’ll tell you, this has been one of the craziest years anyone can remember. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, widespread school shutdowns, and stay-at-home orders, the world seems to have been completely turned upside down, and if that wasn’t enough, it’s an election year. On top of that, this particular election promises to be one of the most contentious in recent history.

As more and more seniors turn 18, they are eager to voice their opinions and make a difference. In order to vote, however, the first step is to register, which can be a real hassle thanks to COVID-19. That’s where McCallum librarian Jain Thompson and League of Women Voters Club members Denali Jah and Natalie Suri come in.

When Ms. Thompson was contacted by Stephanie Land, a League of Women Voters volunteer, about setting up a curbside voter registration booth, she knew just the students she needed to help her. Soon enough, Jah and Suri were working with them to create a way to get students interested in voting and to guide them through the process of registering.

Even though Thompson had run voting drives in previous years, the setup had to be changed in a lot of ways to accommodate social-distancing regulations. Despite these pandemic obstacles, the drive still brought a lot of students out to register to vote.

“COVID-19 kind of forced you to think outside of the box like that in a really good way,” Thompson said.

In total, they were able to help nearly 17 voters get registered.

But they are not done. After three successive curbside registration drives the last three Friday afternoons, Thompson, Land and company have one last-ditch voter registration drive scheduled for Monday, which is also the deadline to register to vote in the 2020 general election.

If you will be 18 or older on Nov. 3 and have not yet registered, you can register between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Monday on campus at a drive-through registration. The registration is open to anyone, not just McCallum families. If you have friends, relatives or neighbors who need to register, they can participate as well.

The drive-through registration will be held at the corner of the exit to the McCallum Circle Drive and Sunshine. You need to wear a mask, bring a pen and a driver’s license (or the last four digits of your social security number). If you have moved, you need to re-register in order to vote. You can check your registration status by visiting here.

The registered Mac seniors we interviewed for this story are ready for their voices to be heard in the 2020 election, and the events of this year have only fueled their desire to create change. 

“This year is an important election,” Jah told MacJournalism. ”It not only decides who will become the president but also determines who our representatives will be for the next term. This is particularly important in 2020 because voting lines will be redrawn and put into effect in 2021, which will drastically change the political balance in the U.S. By voting you can help determine how voting lines are drawn and prevent gerrymandering.”

One voter who registered during the curbside drive, Jesse Rodriguez, hopes to do just that.

“I really wanted to have the opportunity to have a say in what goes on in our country,” Rodriguez said. “It also feels empowering knowing that I could make a difference and possibly choose who the new president will be. I think everything that’s happened in the past couple of months with Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have really opened up our eyes to the major injustices people face every day. I believe many people want to vote to get Trump out of office, but I think it extends beyond that as well. I believe that the huge increase of people in support of the Black Lives Matter movement has really motivated us to make a difference in our world. After we’ve protested and signed countless petitions, we are finally beginning to see how much power we actually have. Now that most of us are turning 18, we’ll finally have our chance to voice our opinions.”  

Another first-time voter, Jonah Brown expressed his hope that more students would take part in the election.

“I believe that it is important to vote as soon as you’re eligible to send a message to the candidates that they have to take into perspective the needs of young adults. Candidates might be tempted to ignore young people but if we all vote, they will realize they need to listen.” Brown said.  “It is important to exercise your right to vote and not just sit back thinking someone else will do it for you.” 

For another senior, Vanessa Lee, exercising the right to vote is an obligation to the generations that came before her.

“I felt an obligation to register ESPECIALLY being a woman of color,” Lee said. “My family generations ago weren’t even allowed to vote. It’s a privilege that I can’t take for granted.”

Lee said she will be casting a vote for Biden because she disagrees with President Trump’s approach to a myriad of issues, among them his handling of the pandemic and his attitude toward the recent police brutality protests and the demand for greater racial equity in the nation.

During the McCallum curbside voter registration on Sept. 18, senior Jesse Rodriguez gets signed up with League of Women Voters volunteer Stephanie Land. Rodriguez, like many young voters, is excited to see what changes the election will bring for the country.
“I really wanted to have the opportunity to have a say in what goes in our country,” Rodriguez. “It also feels empowering knowing that I could make a difference and possibly choose who the new president will be.” (Dave Winter)

“I want to be able to visit my grandparents without worry about getting them sick,” Lee said. “I want to be able to spend my 18th birthday with my dad without him worrying that he might give me something to get me sick from his job. And I want to be able to not worry about my little brother possibly getting murdered because of racial profiling.”

Lee said that given all that is riding on this election, it is paramount for young people to vote.

“If you have the ability to vote, don’t treat it like it’s a chore,” Lee said. “Treat it like it’s a privilege that shouldn’t go to waste.”

Jah agrees with that sentiment 100 percent. 

“Voting is important because it makes sure that everyone’s voice is heard,” Jah said. “If you are disconnected with the way things currently are in the U.S., it is your responsibility to speak up and represent your views by voting for people that align with your values. Every vote counts.”

Monday is the last day the McCallum voter registration is happening. If you or anyone you know is still unregistered to vote, we want to urge you to get out, register, and make your voice heard. To register, drive to the corner of the exit to the McCallum Circle Drive and Sunshine, wear a facial mask, and bring your driver’s license (or the last four digits of your social security number) and a pen. 

The deadline to register to vote in Texas for the next election is also Monday, so if you can’t get to Mac today, you can also register by visiting to register in Travis County.