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Cover Story

Ten reasons to vote this year ... or not

Photo: Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com, License: N/A

Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com

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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8. Por La Raza. Two fresh reports this month from the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center revealed that the population of Latinos eligible to vote next month has surged to 26 percent of the Texas electorate, and that those voters represent a potential Democratic goldmine: They prefer Obama over Romney by 69 percent to 21 percent and some 61 percent favor the Democratic Party, up from 45 percent in 2011. But according to the U.S. Census, only 38 percent of eligible Latino voters cast a ballot in Texas in 2008, down from 42 percent in 2004. By comparison, 57 percent of California's eligible Latino voters went to the polls in 2008, up from 47 percent in 2004. "Latinos will go out and vote if they are mobilized and they understand that there is a stake in their participation." says Arturo Vega, associate professor and director of the St. Mary's University Public Administration Graduate Program. "Voting is a question of opportunity cost, and because they're not being mobilized [by campaigns targeting consistent voters], the opportunity cost for Latinos is much higher than for their counterparts."

9. It's Easy. Even easier than helping Master Chief survive on Halo 4's Requiem planet. "A lot of my friends can't be bothered to either change addresses [to maintain valid voter registration] or do the paperwork to register for the first time," says Boerne resident Josh Bradshaw of England. "It kind of pisses me off, you know, because it's a big deal. If I were an American I'd vote for sure, so it surprises me that so many people are turned off and apathetic. It's really easy, just go online." (See our sidebar for more information on how.)

10. It's Your Duty. "We're blessed to live in the most democratic country in the world, and people not only have the right, but in my profession I think I can say they have the duty to come to the polls," says Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen. "When we see what the military is going through to protect democracies, my personal thought is that it really is a duty. It's really hard for us to be sending ballots out to Afghanistan and worldwide and then to have someone who is sitting a block away from a polling site not get up and go vote, that's really a huge dichotomy. We get [absentee ballot] requests from our military worldwide, and you get an email back that says, 'Thank you, ma'am, it's really important to me.' How do we match that kind of service with some of our citizens here that don't take the time to go vote?"

VOTER MANUAL

• The new state voter ID law failed to pass muster at either the U.S. Justice Department or in federal courts, so no matter what you've heard, you do not need any special photo card to vote. A drivers license or even a current utility bill or bank statement is enough (see votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/need-id for a list of optional forms of ID).

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