The Texas State and San Marcos community is directly impacted by the decisions made by elected officials, such as City Council representatives, the Hays County sheriff, the county judge, county commissioners and the justice of the peace.
If we want to influence how certain issues and policies are decided, voting has to become a priority. At the local level, one vote can make all the difference.
Last year, for example, a City Council candidate won by 30 votes. That close margin of victory proves one thing: Every vote counts.
Think about some of what has taken place in our community over the last year:
Community members stood in line for hours on Super Tuesday to cast their vote during the primary election.
County residents protested outside the Hays County Historic Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center advocating for the release of pre-trial detainees during the pandemic. A lawyer with inmates in the jail told The Star his clients did not receive masks.
The Hays County Commissioners Court decided against an additional on-campus polling location.
Riverparks and public facilities in San Marcos closed due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Some recently reopened.
E-scooters now occupy our campus and city.
A lawsuit was filed against County Judge Ruben Becerra accusing him of taking money from taxpayers for work he did not do. He has denied the accusations.
An investigative story by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune (republished by The Star) revealed how a “felon” convinced our county officials to help him profit off the pandemic.
As an editorial board, we understand we cannot make people care about these developments. We feel it is our duty, however, to make it clear that officials we vote for have power and influence over a lot of what happens in this community, for better or worse. When voter turnout is low, we make the conscious decision to give up our say in who has control.
In Hays County's 2019 general election, 13.57% of registered voters showed up to the polls. In this year’s primary election, less than 30% of registered voters exercised their right to vote. These percentages are clearly not representative of who we are as a community.
A significant, representative voter turnout is possible; it has been done before. Hays County saw record-breaking turnout during early voting in 2018, mostly due to Texas State students. We have the ability to do that again this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing fight for human rights, there is a lot more at stake.
We understand voting is not the end-all-be-all. We also understand voting is not something everyone has the privilege of doing. There are systemic issues that voting alone may never address. Voting is not guaranteed for all who live in this community, whether it be due to a lack of citizenship, an unmet age requirement or a current “felon” standing.
Some students choose not to vote in Hays County because they live here temporarily. Others feel it does not matter; ‘whatever happens, will happen.’
Everyone has a right to feel the way they feel. We just ask that people think about those on the receiving end of broken policies and procedures. Consider those who want to vote on something they feel directly impacted by but can’t due to circumstances out of their control. Think about the hundreds of people who protested this summer, urging people to vote, because they feel their lives are not valued.
Use it all as motivation to get out and exercise the right to vote. Every person in this community matters; it is our moral and civic obligation to love and support one another. Speak up and show out for those whose voices and rights are undermined.
Unfortunately, we may experience long lines again during this election. Not everyone will be eligible to vote by mail; some of us will have to step outside our comfort zone and vote in person.
Do not get discouraged. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we are a lot stronger than we think. We have been through hell and back and found ways to persevere. This is just another challenge we are tasked with overcoming.
Voter registration ends Oct. 5. Early voting is Oct. 13-30. Election Day is Nov. 3. It is here. Let’s get to work.