EL PASO – Like millennials elsewhere, young El Pasoans are distinguished by their historic low levels of civic and electoral participation. But a group of local political leaders and others have spent the last year in an aggressive campaign inside high school classrooms and auditoriums to help sign up 18-year-olds and get them to cast a ballot November 8. Spearheaded by the office of State Sen. José Rodriguez, the Student Voter Initiative deployed volunteers to 26 high schools in nine school districts over the last 11 months to talk to about 7,000 teenagers about the political process, civic engagement and the importance of voting. As a result of the high school campaign, 650 El Paso area students age 18 years and older are now registered to vote, according to Samantha Romero, office coordinator for Sen. Rodriguez
Claudia Yoli, Director of Community Affairs for Sen. Rodriguez, said of the initiative: “We wanted to let students know that Texas overall has a very low voter participation rate and,in our community, it can go as low as 10 percent during non presidential elections, so we want students to know that and change it.”
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According to VoteTexas.gov, during the 2012 presidential election, there were 383, 737 registered voters In El Paso, County, and out of those only 171,070, or 44.58 percent actually voted. At the national level, Pew Research Center data shows that as April 2016 an estimated 69.2 million millennials (people between the ages of 18 – 35) were voting age U.S. citizens.