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Cover Story

Ten reasons to vote this year ... or not

Photo: Action Sports Photography /, License: N/A

Action Sports Photography /

Photo: Photo by Jeffrey Wright, License: N/A

Photo by Jeffrey Wright

Texas Legislature Representative Joaquín Castro, currently running for U.S. Congress, rallies students at a recent "Debate Night" event at Northwest Vista Community College.

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5. You're Hip. And still have your original hips. It's well known that youth vote in far lower numbers than their parents and grandparents. In Bexar County, 60 percent of our voters are 55 or older, and the highest participating demographic is aged 65 to 74. "All the young people who aren't voting are letting me make their decisions for them," quips Phyllis Ingram, president of the San Antonio League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area. "Voting is habit-forming," says UTSA's Jaramillo. "So if you can get the youth to vote early, they're more likely to continue to turn out." Maybe if they only knew more about the process. "It's going to be fun," predicts 20-year-old Northwest Vista College student Alyssa Swanson, preparing for her first electoral effort. "Don't they have those weird machines you go into? I can't wait for that experience."

6. Show You The Money. In 2008, the Obama campaign spent $11 per vote, while challenger John McCain ponied up $6. The pot will be even richer this time around. In the 2012 Republican primaries alone, Romney flooded the field with his $19-per-vote ante. Battleground states receive the lion's share of presidential adspend — but state and local offices have deep pockets, too. In the past 2010 cycle, Gov. Rick Perry's campaign spent $15 for every vote he received; Democrat Bill White spent $12, not including Super PAC cash. But resources are allocated for likely voters, not for those on the sidelines. "There's no question about it," says Texas Legislature Representative Joaquín Castro, currently running for U.S. Congressional District 35. "[Campaigns] tend to target people who have already availed themselves to the system, and what you get is a funnel effect as that pool [of likely voters] seems to be getting smaller and smaller and smaller. The candidates go after the people who have voted, and [campaign] resources are limited, so it's understandable. That's fine for the candidates, but when you think about the larger society — that's not best for the larger society."

7. Flex Your Demography. Texas took a hit this month as the National Election Pool, a media consortium that conducts the only major exit poll, announced that we are among 19 states that will be eliminated from state-level exit polls next month amid rising costs. Nevertheless, consortium pollster Edison Research said it will still sample Texans for its national survey results. More than 100 demographic variables are covered, including age, race, gender, Hispanic descent, sexual orientation, age of children in household, marital status, political party, political orientation, employment status, education, religion, sexual orientation, and family income. Atheist or evangelical? White or black? Gay or straight? Rich or poor? Your candidates may not win, but electoral data miners will still tabulate your demography.

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