Students at The University of Texas-Pan American prepared for this year's presidential and local elections by attending the Register to Vote Rally on Oct. 1 and Rock the Vote Rally on Oct. 28. The events sponsored by the UTPA Student Union were held at the UTPA Chapel Lawn and featured music, free food, voter registration, precinct location information and appearances from local candidates.
According to Delma Olivarez, associate director of the Student Union, about 170 students registered to vote at the Student Union since Sept. 29 and University professors and students volunteered to help register voters on campus. Edna Zambrano, director of the Student Union, said that the Register to Vote Rally was intended to remind students to register to vote before Oct. 6 in order to vote on Nov. 4.
Candidates whom attended the Rock the Vote rally included Sam Houston for Supreme Court of Texas, Place 7; Justice Dori Contreras Garza, 13th Court of Appeals; State Representative Veronica Gonzales, District 41; Justice Linda Yañez, Texas Supreme Court, Place 8; Judge Danny Rios, 449th District Court; and representatives for Rick Noriega, U.S. Senate. According to the Hidalgo County Elections Office 49,370 residents have voted early as of Oct. 27, and 2,311 of the votes were placed at the UTPA library.
Garza said she likes that the UTPA Student Union attracted students to vote and gave her the opportunity to meet with them. She said that as a candidate it is difficult to speak to many people in one setting, and the Rock the Vote Rally gave her that opportunity.
"Always stay informed. Now with the Internet it's so much easier to get information on all the candidates that are running for the different offices, what the different offices are and what they do, so there really is not a real good excuse for not being informed and not participating, and it's just important as a citizen of this country that we participate in this privilege that has been given to us to elect our leaders," Garza said.