WACO, Texas – Early voting is underway in McLennan County, and people are flocking to the polls to cast their votes – but what about those who don’t have the means to get there?
Baylor University is making sure its students have the chance to vote in this year’s election by helping them overcome any obstacles standing in their way – including distance.
“The earlier you start voting, the more likely you are going to be a voter throughout your entire life. We know that this is the start of something for them,” says Dr. Mito Diaz-Espinoza, the Associate Director of Civic Learning Initiatives at Baylor University.
The university is encouraging their students to get out and cast their vote in this year’s election.
“Baylor does a really good job of registering our students to vote. Our data tells us somewhere in the 80-84 percent range of our students are registered to vote,” says Dr. Diaz-Espinoza.
The problem is only 31 percent of those students will go out and actually vote.
“Years ago, there was actually a polling place on campus. But now the closest one is about 1.2 miles away,” says Dr. Diaz-Espinoza.
So Baylor is giving students a ride to the polls.
“We want to remove any barrier or any roadblock for them, to make it as easy as possible for them to voice their concerns and have a say in their representatives in our Democratic process,” says Dr. Diaz-Espinoza.
The school is providing three different opportunities to ride the shuttle to a polling location.
“They can sign up for a time, whether it be 10:30 A.M., 1:00 P.M., or 3:30 P.M. We’ve limited space in those time slots for 15 individuals,” says Dr. Diaz-Espinoza.
They are also taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We are cleaning the vehicles in-between rides, so when the students get off to vote, the shuttle driver will spray everything down and clean it. We are enforcing mask policies, so we’re asking everyone to wear masks. We are also collecting names of students who are pre-registered so we can have the correct information, so that we can trace everyone and let everyone know who was on that shuttle, that they were in contact or may have possibly been in contact with somebody with the virus,” says Dr. Diaz-Espinoza.
The two remaining dates are October 20th and October 27th. The shuttles will pick up students from the bear habitat and then bring them back once they are done voting.