As the nation and the University of Dallas community prepare for the upcoming election, a new club on campus is asking students to register to vote.
The club, Jolt, is a chapter of the Texas wide organization with the same name that advocates for civic participation especially within the Latino community.
According to the Election Project, an information source for the United States electoral system, in the past two presidential elections, only about 60 percent of those eligible to vote are voting, leaving 40 percent of the American electorate unaccounted for. Notably, voter turnout is low within the Latino community, which makes up a sizable population of voters in Texas. According to Jolt, one in three eligible voters are Latino with a total of 11 million Latinos in Texas.
The new Jolt chapter at University of Dallas specifically hopes to increase voter participation on the campus. . President of the Jolt club, Guadalupe Torres, a senior politics major, outlined the mission of the club.
“To increase civic engagement among the Latino community, and to advocate for issues that affect the Latino community,” is the club’s mission, Torres said. “By 2024 Latinos are meant to be the majority in the state of Texas, yet our politics don’t reflect that, and that is because historically we have very low voter turnout and low census response rate. We are trying to fix that, to make sure that our voices are being heard and that we’re being represented.”
Torres said that the club arose out of an evident need for activism in this area on the UD campus.
“We were seeking this community that we couldn’t find on campus.” Torres said. “ It took us having to branch out of the UD community in order to find something that we like, something that we found important to us personally, and also just a group of people that would support us the whole way.”
On March 9, 2020 the student government approved Jolt as an official UD club.
Although the club focuses on civic engagement within the Latino community, its mission is multifaceted.
“There are issues that affect the Latino community: Immigration, Employment, Census Information. We want to talk about those and not just get one side like we’re used to getting on campus,” said Alan Galicia,a junior business major and voter registration coordinator, “It’s all about being a well-informed voter, and engaging the community, the Latino community and the greater DFW Latino community. It’s time for Latinos to stand up and fight for the issues that affect them.”
Jolt is focused on issue-based advocacy, with no particular affiliation with one party or another.
“At the end of the day, everyone has to be registered to vote. There are a lot of Latinos that are right-winged, there are a lot of Latinos that are left-wing, but we want people to know who they’re voting for, know what they stand for, and everyone should be well-informed, everyone should be registered to vote, regardless of your party.” Galicia said.
Galicia said that not aligning with any political party allows for better dialogue within the club.
“Not aligning with a party allows us to have that discourse a lot easier, cause now you’re expecting to have an open platform. Whereas you go to any other club on campus, you’re most likely gonna get that bias. We wanna have that well-rounded conversation. We want to know what’s going on in the community.”
Jolt Vice President and Junior politics major Vanessa Olivo said, “We need to get minorities registered to vote, we need to get them to start having these discussions.”
Although the club is focused on political engagement, it attempts to do more than solely deal with politics.
“Aside from the issue-based advocacy, we are trying to establish a community on campus. A space where people can voice their opinions about these things as well, and just to find if they want like-minded people.” Torres said. “The question that we get asked a lot is: If someone has to be Latino to join this club on campus? You don’t. You can be an ally, and be a part of any kind of community, our work is intersectional. We advocate for so many issues that don’t just affect the Latino community.”
Torres said that the club will provide a space to explore and discuss a wide range of issues that will reflect the interests of its members.
“There’s environmental racism if you’re a science major and want to address these issues. If you’re going into the medical field, there are things to address within the medical field itself. Our work is intersectional, we are trying to create a space where we wanna give the people in our club the ability to focus on issues that they care about themselves.” Torres stated.
Torres said that, “because it is an election year, we’re gonna be going into election mode. We’re gonna be having voter registration tables, we’re gonna be encouraging the UD community if they’re not registered to vote: ‘Well, come to our table we’re gonna do that for you, we’re gonna walk you through it.”
Jolt will hold meetings virtually.