Engagement spikes among young voters and election volunteers

SA in need of more election day volunteers

SAN ANTONIO -- With historic voter registration numbers in Bexar County, election officials are seeking new volunteers on Election Day. Now, an unexpected group of civic-minded young people is answering the call.

On Thursday, TechBloc led an event to sign up millennials to not only vote but volunteer. That would buck a long trend of poor voter turnout among that age group.

TechBloc voter engagement coordinator Emily Bowe says that the company is looking to help county elections gain the 160 or so volunteers they still need in time for Election Day. She says that they’re doing so because the future of San Antonio and its tech industry rests on young people getting involved in government.

"Building relationships with different municipal organizations, whether it's the county or the city, helps our members understand the kinds of actions that are going to be needed to help make San Antonio the kind of city that all of us want it to be,” Bowe said.

Historically, young people have not been engaged in election volunteer work. The average age of election officials in the county is 72.6 years old.

Anne Griestorn, a 19-year-old and soon-to-be volunteer, says that she wants to bring that number down. Her motivation, she says, is to get to know the system and the people who help make it work.

"I would like to learn more about how other people feel about the candidates and just figure out how it all works, basically,” Griestorn said.

Indeed, 2016 looks to be a big year for young voter engagement in Bexar County. Of all registered voters who signed up after the New Year, 59 percent are under the age of 35.

Judge Nelson Wolff says that young voters have typically gotten the short end of the stick simply because they don’t show up to vote for their best interests. Now, he says, he hopes increased engagement and efforts from companies like TechBloc can help change that.

"They're beginning to have an impact... They're starting to. But they have to follow through,” Wolff said.

Griestorn says that she plans to follow through despite the fact that she isn’t particularly engaged in this election. She says she dislikes both presidential candidates, but will vote and volunteer nonetheless.

"That's a human duty, I guess,” Griestorn said. “I think that everybody should try."

(© 2016 KENS)


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