Delma Limones is a Texas State University student and a Planned Parenthood Generation organizer.
You don’t have to meet a Texan to know that we are proud about a lot of things, our voter turnout — not so much.
But our Planned Parenthood Generation group here at Texas State University is trying to change just that. This week as part of celebrating National Voter Registration Day, and in the weeks leading up to the election, some of my fellow Bobcats and I will be participating in the 2014 Youth ShowOUT — helping each other get registered to vote, volunteering in voter pledge drives, and educating our peers on voting rights.
For instance, I’m sure a lot of them don’t know that right here in Texas, there is a new voter ID law that requires voters to present certain forms of identification in order to vote — a student ID is not one of them. Eighty one out of 254 counties in this state don’t even have a Department of Public Safety, where one would be able to get the proper form of identification needed. This new law disproportionately affects young people, women, communities of color and trans people.
Like many of my peers, I’m angered by these attempts to suppress our voice but equally fired up to do something about it. Through my work with our campus Planned Parenthood Generation group, I’ve learned that the best way for us to channel that frustration is by educating and mobilizing our peers.
Young people understand the complexity of many issues that are at stake in this upcoming election and approach these issues with a multifaceted lens. We know that LGBTQ issues, healthcare access, jobs, higher education and immigration reform are all issues at stake in the election and that different people have different views about how these issues intersect and what good policy is on each issue. We know that voting is not just a political act, it’s a personal one too.
We owe it to each other to take responsibility and make our voices heard.
It can be easier said than done though as so many obstacles stand in our way from accessing such a fundamental right. For example, many people don’t know that in Texas you have to be deputized in the county in which you’re registering voters. Our Planned Parenthood Generation group here on campus made it a priority that all of our officers were deputized right away and able to register voters. We also knew that trying to ensure that all eligible students on our campus are registered to vote would be difficult to do alone so we teamed up with fellow progressive student organizations on campus to help increase our outreach efforts.
People say that millennials are lazy but in my experience, all I have seen is the opposite. In these last few weeks I’ve never been more impressed with the work of my peers. I’ve seen my classmates emerge as young leaders all while finding the time to balance this volunteer work with their work as students, their part time jobs, their internships, and their personal lives.
I pass the statue of Texas State alumnus, President Lyndon. B Johnson — who signed the Voting Rights Act during the civil rights movement — every day on my way to class and every day it reminds me of how far we have come and how far we still have left to go to ensure that women, young people, and people of color are able to exercise their right to vote.
I’m proud to be one of many young leaders, not just on my campus, but across the country that are making sure that we all have a voice this upcoming election.
We are angry about any attempts to keep people from the polls, we are organized, we are voting, and making sure those around us are too.
Photo: Delma Limones with fellow Texas State University Students at the Youth Organizing and Policy Institute in Fort Worth, Texas (August 2014).