Students and members of the Richland community can register to vote in the May 4 municipal election at locations scattered throughout campus April 2 and 3. The deadline for voter registration is April 4.
The election includes many school district and city races, including a crowded field of candidates vying for the Dallas mayor’s seat. All 14 places on the Dallas City Council and a $1.1 billion bond package for DCCCD are on the ballot.
“In the local election, given that the turnout is so bad, you could be one of 800 people voting, which gives you immense more clout than you would [have] in a national election,” said Dr. Raymond Sandoval, a political science professor at Richland.
Sandoval, a former political consultant, said that although students get caught up in national issues, such as human rights, they are usually one among millions of voters so their chances of affecting election outcomes are minimal.
The nine Dallas mayoral candidates are Mike Ablon, Albert Black, Scott Griggs, Eric Johnson, Alyson Kennedy, Lynn McBee, Regina Montoya, Miguel Solis and Jason Villalba.
Races for the council seats are all contested with former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller running against Jennifer Staubach Gates for Place 13. Richland is in District 10 where incumbent Adam McGough is being challenged by D’Andrala “Dede” Alexander and Sirrano Keith Baldeo.
“You know, it’s really interesting, the old saying, that all politics is local. But really, students and the general public become more and more embroiled and interested in huge issues: Whether the country is going to war; whether the country has a new policy regarding gay rights or race rights. But, their day-to-day lives really are much more impacted by their city council, their county government and by the mayors, and so forth,” Sandoval said. “And so, we neglect the one branch that we can affect the most, which is local politics, and we pay attention to that branch we can affect the least, which is really national politics.”
Postage-paid voter registration forms are also available in the Office of Student Life in El Paso Hall, E040. They can also be downloaded from www.dallascountyvotes.org, but must be printed and mailed. Forms are also available at many post offices and high schools or by calling the Dallas County Elections Department office at 214-819-6300.
Texas law does not allow online voting registration.
“You have to get a form. You have to fill it out. You have to sign it and you have to send it in to the county where you’re registering to vote,” Assistant Dallas County Elections Robert Heard, Sr. Administrator said.
One of the reasons Texas requires voters to register by mail is fear of fraud, Sandoval said. He called it a “bugaboo of the mind and a myth” and said that fraudulent accounts make up maybe a tenth of a percent of voting, which is extremely small. Some states are going to same-day registration and voting or even online voting, he said.
Sandoval speculated that it may become simpler to vote in Texas as more people from out of state move here and bring their voting experiences with them, and as a younger generation of voters move into political power.
“Basically, young people are quite comfortable with changes because they didn’t experience an old voting system,” he said.
Early voting at Richland takes place in Guadalupe Hall April 22-30. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 22 to 27, 1 to 6 p.m. April 28 and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 29 and 20.