15:55 PM

Voting initiatives check the box: UHCL has highest turnout among university polling locations


The Houston Chronicle reports that after over seven days of early voting, university polling locations in Harris County are lagging everywhere except in one location—University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Darius Provost-Evans, who is working toward his Master of Arts in Sociology at UH-Clear Lake, is active in the Civic Engagement Coalition, a community-wide organization that advocates to create a campus atmosphere that promotes voter participation.

“It’s not just a student organization,” Provost-Evans said. “We have faculty, community leaders and others outside the campus that are working together to create awareness about things like early voting dates and times and voter registration drives. We coordinate those efforts with other parties who are interested in helping us.”

The university, a designated Voter Friendly Campus,  is also a recent member of the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement coordinated by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University.

“We work really hard, reaching out to incoming freshmen and sophomores to help them learn about voter registration and voting,” Provost-Evans said. “We are a campus that is growing, and we have more students living on campus now. We are finding better ways to approach the students who didn’t have the awareness about voting and working to engage them in the voting process.”

Their efforts are definitely having an impact. The Houston Chronicle reports that according to Harris County data, out of about 354,100 people who voted early and in-person the first week, just 8,559 cast their ballots at one of four polling spots at universities. With an average of 3,576 people voting at each of Harris County’s 99 early voting locations, all other university polling locations fell below the mark. Only UHCL surpassed it.

“I’m happy to know we have such a high voter turnout on our campus, but we know we have more work to do,” Provost-Evans said. “We will always meet new challenges with integrity and keep moving those margins up.”

He added that as a sociology major, he learned that voting is one way to make a difference in the community. “We want people to know we are here and it’s a smooth, easy process with a lot of assistance available on how to use the machines,” he said. “If you aren’t aware of who the candidates are, we can show you how to pull up a sample ballot. Don’t be afraid to walk in and have a new experience.”

Other universities with early voting locations are Texas Southern University, University of Houston, and University of Houston-Downtown.

Early voting on the UHCL campus for the midterm elections began Oct. 24 and will end Nov. 4. Registered voters in Harris County can vote at any early voting location. For more information about voting initiatives at UHCL, go online.