Denton County set a new record for its early voting turnout, with 55 percent of registered voters in the county voting as of Oct. 26.
In Texas, 7,376,276 voters have cast a ballot as of Oct. 26, which is more than 82 percent of all voters in the state in 2016.
Environmental science freshman Dylan Hamilton said this election is the first one she is able to vote in.
“I felt inclined to [vote] because I know that I want my voice heard and to be a productive member of our society,” Hamilton said. “Voting to me means establishing myself as my own person with my own views.”
2020 marks the first presidential election in which members of Generation Z can vote. Four percent could vote in 2016, but now one-in-10 eligible voters this year are members of this generation, according to Pew Research Center projections.
“The only other election I’ve been old enough to really pay attention to was 2016, and those are very similar when it comes to division and the candidates’ interactions with one another,” integrative studies senior Ashli Hart said. “The increase in early voter turnout is crazy. It’s amazing to see people — especially young people — using their voice and heading to the polls.”
The change in the share of eligible voters from 2016 to 2020 is projected to increase by 0.2 percent among Black voters, 1.3 percent among Hispanic voters and 0.6 percent among Asian/other race voters, according to American Progress.
“This election marks a turning point in everything: politics, the economy and how society will continue on in dealing with issues such as equality and discrimination,” Art History freshman Cydney Camara said. “I feel like this election will really shape our future, and be significant to how society progresses.”
Latino and Mexican American studies junior Madeline King said she thinks this election is important because it is a census year.
“It’s my first presidential election, so it’s important in that sense,” King said. “But I also think it’s important to acknowledge that lots of things can change from now, especially when you consider that the census was this year, so there’s no telling what will be different about the structure of government in a year.”
Voter turnout for LGBTQ+ has increased since the 2018 midterm elections. According to exit poll data in the presidential primary from NBC News, 10 percent of voters identified as LGBTQ+, while six percent of the electorate identified as LGBTQ+ in the midterms.
“If I’m being honest, this election gives me a lot of anxiety,” Hart said. “The rights of women [and] LGBTQ+ people are on the line here, and the thought of losing my right to choose and the right to marry is scary.”
The American Psychological Association conducted a survey concerning stress in America, which revealed that about 56 percent of respondents identified the 2020 election as a significant stressor.
Due to the pandemic, Camara said she voted early because she was worried about the number of people who would vote on Election Day.
“I have already voted because I didn’t want there to be too long of a line and be turned away because of the crowds,” Camara said. “Also because I was able to social distance for effectively going early.”
Early voting ends Friday at 7 p.m. but voting will resume on election day, Nov. 3, at 7 a.m. More specific polling locations and times can be found on Vote Denton.
“Voting is one way to have our voices heard and enact change both on a national level and locally,” Hart said. “If my fellow students haven’t voted or made a plan to vote, I encourage you to. Us and our children are the ones that policies enacted now will affect, and we deserve to have a say in how our country is run. Voting isn’t the only thing we need to do to make the world a better place, but it’s one piece of the puzzle.”
Featured Image: The UNT Gateway Center opens as a site for early voting in Denton, Texas. Early voting in Texas began on Oct. 13 and ends on Oct. 30. Image by Quincy Palmer