Partnering with MOVE Texas and Texas Rising to host a drive-in voter registration event, Texas State Athletics helped register 676 people to vote by the deadline, making it one of the largest drive-in voter registration events in Texas this year, according to MOVE Texas.

The event was held in the Strahan Coliseum parking lot from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m to accommodate as many people's schedules as possible and capitalize on Oct. 5 being the last day to register. Normally such events would take place in the middle of campus, but due to COVID-19, the department chose to go with a drive-in option to minimize contact.

People drove up, and volunteer deputy registrars from MOVE Texas and Texas Rising would verify the person's voter eligibility, walk them through the registration form and inform them on nearby polling locations.

Both MOVE Texas and Texas Rising are organizations with the goal of increasing voter turnout and awareness, especially in younger demographics. After MOVE Texas partnered with the San Antonio Spurs to hold a similar event at the AT&T Center Sept. 15, Texas State reached out to MOVE Texas about conducting a drive-in registration in San Marcos.

MOVE Texas field organizer Kylie Mankin graduated from Texas State in August 2020 and was happy to partner with her former university to help the community she calls home.

"I've lived here for the past four years; I have seen what my community needs," Mankin said. "We need events like this where the university reaches out to the community."

Several student organizations were at the event volunteering and helping draw attention to the drive-in. These organizations include Ignite, Latinas Unidas and student-athletes from various sports. Some student-athletes registered to vote upon arriving to volunteer.

Senior cross country runner Esmeralda Fuentes, who is eligible to vote for the first time, volunteered. Fuentes is a member of the Johnny E. Brown Committee on Racial Equality (CORE), which was formed to develop "actionable recommendations to foster an inclusive culture in Texas State Athletics."

"If I can vote then I can encourage others to vote," Fuentes said. "Especially with my parents coming from a bilingual household, they might not really know the steps they can take, so I wanted to be able to help other people if they didn't know the steps they could take to come register to vote."

Fuentes has felt welcomed by Texas State and is happy to see the university take initiative and help register as many people as possible by the deadline.

"I feel like it is important, especially during these times with racial injustice, they are making it known that Texas State is a welcome place and that every person matters here," Fuentes said. "At my previous university I didn't feel that way and since I transferred here I definitely feel like it's more diverse here."

Cross country and distance assistant coach Joel Keller is on the voter registration subcommittee with Fuentes and also volunteered. Keller said the mission of the subcommittee is to "have 100% of eligible student-athletes registered to vote."

Keller took the opportunity to help the Texas State and San Marcos community as a way to continue the subcommittee's mission beyond athletics.

"We've held events within our athletic department with each team to get registered, but we wanted to do this and help the community as well," Keller said. "Obviously young votes are very important and our kids need to get out there and vote and so this is the first step."

The Texas State Spirit Program and Boko the Bobcat made an appearance, standing along Aquarena Springs Drive helping get the attention of passing drivers, many of whom honked their horns in support.

CORE member and senior cheerleader Naomi Garza has been vocal among the cheer squad about the importance of voting.

"If you have a reason or a cause that you feel you may be affected by, whether it be women's rights [or] LGBT rights, I think you should definitely speak up for what you think is true and pick who you think will stick up for your needs," Garza said.

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