Elections Task Force one way that university is working hard to get out the vote

Campus Community

Julie Cooper | October 5, 2020

student holding sign reading "VOTE."

National Voter Education Week kicks off on Monday, Oct. 5, which is the last day to register to vote in in Texas for the November national election.

Texas State University has been working hard to encourage students to register and vote since before the academic year began.

The Elections Task Force, which was formed by Texas State University President Denise M. Trauth, began work in early August with 25 faculty, staff and students. Chairing the group is Dr. Sherri Benn, assistant vice president for Institutional Inclusive Excellence for Student Initiatives.

benn headshot
Dr. Sherri Benn

“The purpose of the task force is to develop an action plan that will proactively prepare the Texas State community for the elections and promote constructive interactions through the election season,” said Benn, quoting from the president’s July email to the task force.

“This election is very polarizing and potentially one to create a lot of stress in the community,” Benn said. “We want to make sure that students are fully engaged.” For many students this will be their first time participating in a national election, Benn added.

Task force members were each assigned to a subcommittee co-chaired by a student and a faculty or staff member. Each team developed strategies and recommendations. These include:

  • Voter friendly campus: Strategies to engage in respectful discourse, promotion of voting and civic engagement, preparation for election night and post-election processing.   
  • Safety: Strategies to help keep the community safe during campaigning and voting activities, particularly with regard to COVID-19 and white supremacist groups.
  • Inclusion and bias: Strategies to promote inclusive engagement and how to contend with bias.
  • Voter suppression: Strategies to address ways to counter repression of electoral engagement.
  • Polarization and activism: Strategies to help counter activities that have potential to polarize campus community while also supporting student activism.
  • Outreach: Strategies to disseminate information, advance education and promote voter registration within classrooms, housing, student organizations, and other student communities.

Benn explained that there are three phases to the campaign by the Elections Task Force:

Phase 1 is all about voter registration. “Vote. The rest is just noise” is the motto of TXST Votes page, www.txstate.edu/vote. This is where to find information about how to register to vote and important dates to know before election day.

In Phase 2, Oct. 6-Nov. 3, students will be urged to “make a plan to vote.” Voting early is a good option. Hays County election administrators will have volunteers stationed at the voting center which, this year is the Performing Arts Center, located at Moon Street and University Drive. They will make sure students are eligible and have a proper identification to vote.

Early voting is Oct. 13-30. The polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 13-30, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 26-30. Election day voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Currently, no early voting location has been identified on the Round Rock Campus, in Williamson County.

Phase 3 is “Bobcats come together — United We Stand” that runs from Nov. 1 to Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021.

National Voter Education week events will also include a drive-in voter registration event with the Department of  Athletics in the Strahan Arena Parking lot, two Election Town Halls at 7 p.m. Oct. 6-7 with local and state candidates (in person for Texas State only or via Zoom webinar for community members). 

To register for the Oct. 6 webinar: https://txstate.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ej-qC15PR5OjYy6rx74d9Q. For the Oct. 7 webinar go to: https://txstate.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_sTzWvIHsSHi-ETa-rIfkeQ  

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922