Behind the Ballot: How to Register to Vote and Why It’s Important

Rho Kappa Hosts Voter Registration Booth

During+DEN+on+Sept.+20%2C+students+who+were+already+18%2C+or+who+will+be+turning+18+soon%2C+filled+out+Voter+Registration+forms.+Rho+Kappa+president+and+senior+Ariana+Balakrishnan+helped+oversee+the+voter+registration+event.+%E2%80%9CI+think+it%E2%80%99s+really+important+for+high+schoolers%2C+or+anyone+eligible+to+vote%2C+to+get+started+doing+that+process+at+a+young+age+because+it%E2%80%99s+a+part+of+our+civic+duties+and+you+might+as+well+start+young%2C+Balakrishnan+said.+It%E2%80%99s+a+right+that+everyone+should+be+able+to+exercise+and+I%E2%80%99m+really+glad+that+Rho+Kappa+could+bring+this+experience+to+the+school.

Photo by Madison Shields

During DEN on Sept. 20, students who were already 18, or who will be turning 18 soon, filled out Voter Registration forms. Rho Kappa president and senior Ariana Balakrishnan helped oversee the voter registration event. “I think it’s really important for high schoolers, or anyone eligible to vote, to get started doing that process at a young age because it’s a part of our civic duties and you might as well start young,” Balakrishnan said. “It’s a right that everyone should be able to exercise and I’m really glad that Rho Kappa could bring this experience to the school.”

Iliana Tangarova

Madison Shields, Editor

Turning 18 equates to buying movie tickets to R-rated movies, lottery tickets and getting a Costco card. But the most important addition to a teenager’s abilities is the power to vote, according to student body president and senior Ariana Balakrishnan. Students who will be 18 by Nov. 8, 2022, and who are registered to vote by Oct. 11, 2022, can take action.

Rho Kappa, the Social Studies Honor Society, held a voter registration tent during DEN on Sept. 20, where anyone who met the age requirements could register. Numerous students found their way to the tent, either by hearing about it on the announcements or seeing it set up in the courtyard. The president of Rho Kappa, Balakrishnan, helped run the registration. She learned about the importance of voting in more depth this past summer, from a camp she was selected to attend called Texas Bluebonnet Girls State.

“Basically, it’s a government camp that prepares girls to be involved in the political science world and how to be involved in politics and government in general,” Balakrishnan said. “I was there for a week and we learned about different types of voting and different types of elections. So, coming back home, I wanted to carry that importance with me and share it with the school’s community. That’s why we’re doing this voter registration. We hold about two every year and I feel that it’s super important that high schoolers get out there and get voting.”

Alongside Balakrishnan, senior Patrick Riordan said he believes voting holds a lot of importance. Having a mother who is a teacher and participating in a voting registration campaign in 2020 pushed Riordan to support early registration and voting. He engaged in acts of activism for voter registration in the Travis County community. Presenting at a National conference led to his education in the world of voting and politics, according to Riordan, while also educating him on the lack of young voters.

It’s really important to vote because it’s your opportunity to make your voice heard. A lot of times voting can impact your community. For example, coming up in this next election, there’s some questions that can really impact our local schools.”

— Jennifer Fortenberry, Rho Kappa Sponsor

“I was part of a group that presented the importance of voter registration to the national youth convention,” Riordan said. “Even though we had to produce an online experience rather than going to Disney World and enjoying the whole convention, the effort we put into making that presentation and spreading awareness about voter representation in our communities has stuck with me and it’s important to me because of that. I’ve grown up being told how important it is to vote, so I still value the importance of being a registered voter.”

Working beside the students in the booth, U.S. Government teacher and Rho Kappa sponsor, Jennifer Fortenberry, walked students through the process of registering. This process consisted of filling out first and last name, address, date of birth and Texas Driver’s License number or Social Security Number. After registering, a voter registration card will be sent in the mail. The process resulting in students having the ability to vote, with a form of ID being required when going to vote.

“It’s really important to vote because it’s your opportunity to make your voice heard,” Fortenberry said. “A lot of times voting can impact your community. For example, coming up in this next election, there’s some questions that can really impact our local schools. It’s super easy to register, all you have to do is fill out a little, short form. It’s important if you want to be a member of a society that’s a democracy and you want to have your voice heard, you really have to vote.”

 Voter registration can be done online at votetexas.gov.