Concert at the Turtle Pond Rallies Voters
Mar 19, 2024

Concert at the Turtle Pond Rallies Voters

Reporting Texas TV

AUSTIN, Texas — At the University of Texas Turtle Pond, 100 students sat under the stars and listened to melodies belted by local singers. The on-campus concert, hosted by TX Votes, hopes to encourage early voting. 

Founded in 2006, TX Votes is housed in the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life in the Moody College of Communication. The organization is a non-partisan, non-advocacy, civic engagement group at UT focusing on increasing voter turnout among students. 

“We’re here for you no matter which way you lean. It’s about getting students civically engaged,” said Ava Snoozy, a TX Votes member.  

During election cycles, the organization registers students, volunteers at registrar training sessions, hosts guest speakers and holds events to encourage students to vote.

Early voting was held Feb. 20 to Mar. 1, TX Votes hosted their concert on Feb. 23  to kick off early voting with a bang. 

“We’re hosting this concert tonight with the goal that [students] learn about what’s going on. They fill out a plan to vote, enjoy the music, and then go head to the polls,” said Scott Poole, TX Votes President. 

Modern Sophia and 4411, two local bands, performed at the event.

“We are trying to encourage early voting, and this [concert] is something we’re excited to endorse,” said Sophia Nace, lead singer of Modern Sophia.

The band Modern Sophia performs at the University of Texas Turtle Pond on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Between songs the band reminded students to get out and vote early. (Mahlah Freeman/Reporting Texas TV)

According to Brookings, a nonprofit/nonpartisan research institution, those ages 18-29 have had the lowest voter turnout in the past three major elections which occurred in 2014, 2018, and 2022. Researchers found the nationwide youth voter turnout in 2022 was around 30% compared to the highest voter turnout for those aged 65 or older was close to 70%. 

“Our age group has the lowest voter turnout, and I think it’s important to increase that,” said Jillian Hester, TX Votes Vice President. 

Members of TX Votes believe there are many reasons why those numbers are so low. From long Election Day lines to a lack of knowledge and simply no motivation. 

“In young people, if you instill with them a desire to continue democracy and to continue voting from a young age that will carry that further into their lives,” Snoozy said.

TX Votes hopes the concert and other future events will encourage students to talk about voting. The group believes starting small will end with a big impact and spread civic engagement among the UT community. 

“I hope people just come and have a fun time, and in the process, they learn about voting. I think most people recognize the importance of voting,” Poole said. “All we have to do is give them the information and help those who don’t have enough information find it.”

TX votes members encourage any students to send questions about voting to their Instagram txvotes_cea.

“We have a lot more power than we think,’” Nance said, “and voting is one of the ways we can practice that.”