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Texas Secretary of State Cascos visits UTRGV, urges students to vote

Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos visited the UTRGV Edinburg Campus on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, to encourage students to vote and to provide information on acceptable forms of voter identification. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

By Gail Fagan

EDINBURG, TEXAS – OCT. 27, 2016 – Texas Secretary of State Carlos H. Cascos brought his statewide bilingual voting initiative, Vote Texas, to UTRGV’s Edinburg Campus on Oct. 27, to encourage more Texans, especially young people, to cast their ballots.

Cascos, a former Cameron County Judge and Cameron County commissioner, was appointed to his state office by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot in 2014.

“It’s great to be back home,” he told the UTRGV students, faculty, staff and university administrators, who gathered to hear Cascos’ message at the PlainsCapital Student Union Theater.

Since he was appointed, Cascos said, his goal has been to encourage more voter participation by Texans, particularly young people, who have been ignored by many candidates running for office.

As part of Vote Texas, launched in September, he has traveled extensively across the state, engaging students, first-time voters and all Texans about the importance of voting and giving them information on how voting requirements have changed for this election. 

“The main focus of Vote Texas is going out and attempting to educate voters about the requirements,” he said, describing the list of valid photo IDs that can be presented, as well as the procedure to vote for people without a valid photo ID. 

“I am committed to making sure every Texan, regardless of their age, regardless of their background, regardless of their ethnicity, regardless of their social status, that they have the opportunity and the information needed to be able to cast a vote,” he said.

And that, he noted, is his duty as Secretary of State.

He asked that those still undecided on a choice for U.S. President – those who might decide not to vote because of that indecision or their dissatisfaction with either candidate – not ignore local races or referendums that are important.

“Those local races are, if not more so, equally as important as the Presidential race, because you are electing local leadership that has a direct impact on our community, whether it is the sheriff’s race or a congressional race,” Cascos said.

He said he has been disappointed with Texas’ past low standing in voter participation.

“That’s why I need your help,” he said. “Everyone in this room should be an ambassador when it comes to getting people registered, getting people motivated, and getting people excited about voting.”

Cascos was welcomed to campus by UTRGV President Guy Bailey and UTRGV Student Government Association President Denisse Molina Castro.  

Bailey noted that the state of Texas has registered an all-time high of 15 million voters, which is about 78 percent of the estimated voting age population in Texas. 

“There are two ways of looking at it. It’s a record, but it is only 78 percent – which means 22 percent are not registered to vote,” he said. “Here at UTRGV we are doing our part with theVaqueros Vote Initiative, a non-partisan coalition of students, faculty, staff and community organizations that have worked on registration, education and getting out the vote.”

UTRGV hosts early voting sites on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses. Since early voting started on Oct. 24, 662 have voted on the Brownsville Campus and 2,115 at the Edinburg Campus, running well above voting figures for the university’s early voting site in the 2012 general election.

Molina cited the significance of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) in this year’s general election.

“This is the first time all millennials are old enough to vote, and now is as large a political force as the baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964),” she said. “However, in the 2012 Presidential election, only 46 percent of the millennials eligible to vote, voted. Today, you have an opportunity to change this.”

Sarah Sanchez, a senior political science major and president of the UTRGV Young Republicans student organization, said she really appreciated what Cascos had to say about the significance of voting in local races.

“It’s not just about the Presidential race,” she said. “The local races are what impact us directly, so it is important to vote down ballot as well.”

SGA Edinburg Campus Vice President Peter Averack, a junior communications studies major, said he was pleasantly surprised by Cascos’ presentation.

“He is a strong advocate for the concept of no excuse, we should get out there and vote,” Averack said. “It was great to hear that even people who might feel that they are not eligible to vote, that there are options. That is something I can advocate for and start talking to people about.”

More voter information is available at the [Vote%20Texas%20website]Vote Texas website or by calling (800) 252-VOTE (8683).

VOTER IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION

Acceptable forms of photo ID are:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS.
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS.
  • Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS.
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph.
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph.
  • United States passport.

Supporting forms of ID that can be presented if the voter does not possess one of the forms of acceptable photo ID and cannot obtain one due to a reasonable impediment:

  • Valid voter registration certificate.
  • Certified birth certificate (must be an original).
  • Copy of or original current utility bill.
  • Copy of or original bank statement.
  • Copy of or original government check.
  • Copy of or original paycheck.
  • Copy of or original government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph).

MEDIA CONTACTS

Gail.Fagan@UTRGV.edu
Senior Writer / 956-665-7995

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu 
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742