Election season is quickly approaching us. In fact, today is actually National Voter Registration Day. Hooray! To celebrate and spread awareness, we interviewed Stephon Bradberry, SGA Chief of Staff, about the importance of voting and how to do it. Check out that interview below.
What are some ways UNT students can get registered to vote?
One of the ways UNT students can get registered to vote is by stopping by the SGA office every morning between 8 and 11. Our government affairs director, Gabriel Tilly, is in there. She is deputized to register people to vote. There are multiple campus organizations that have a lot of their student leaders deputized to register others. SGA is about to do a big deputizing event where we are going to take a bunch of student leaders to the City of Denton and get them deputized, so they help their organizations. It’s simple you just have to take the 5 minutes out of your day to do it.
Why do you think it is important for students to vote?
I think, no, I know that change happens when young people get into the conversation. When young people decide on the future that we want. It’s important for young people to understand that we’re the power in the country and the way that we exhibit this power is by just showing up. We have been so socialized into believing that we’re children, we don’t have anything to say. But we’re the ones who are going to be living here the longest right now. We’re the ones who have been at the literal focal point of change in this country. I think that’s why we see a lot of young people rising up, that’s why we see a lot of movements are happening right now. We have seen what happens when we need to be better. We gage onto the spirit of our ancestors and say this is what we need to be doing. Its young people, specifically here at UNT, we have to be in the conversation. For UNT to have the values that it does, why don’t more of our students show up to the polls? Why are we, as a campus, so lax with civic engagement? We have to vote, we have to show up, because that’s how things actually will happen. In the past, there have been a lot of candidates who say what they want to say, get elected and they don’t do anything, but I think those days in politics are over. I think we’re seeing that that doesn’t work anymore. We’re seeing it all across the country and it’s time for those things to start happening in Texas.
What thoughts do you have for people who believe that their vote doesn’t matter?
America is beautiful. It is an amazing place. And I say that as a black queer person who is the subject of a lot of hatred in this country. However, I still believe in the greater promise, the greater ideal, the greater purpose. We’re one of the only places on earth where we could do all the things that we do because of the foundations that were put into place 500 years ago. That’s crazy. Yes, a lot of things in between that were absolutely disgusting and deplorable, but, think about it, the republic still stands. It stands because of those foundations that were laid for us. People are faulty people. We slip away, but the institutions don’t. When we vote, we affirm that the institution matters. When we vote, we affirm the ideal of democracy, so that it may last. We should vote, because even if everything can’t be fixed in our lifetime, the vote we cast can be for our grandchildren, for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. That is really important. Our votes fight for a future we can’t see. Every single time we do it, we affirm that what happened in 1776 was important and it mattered, what happened in 1863 was important and it mattered, what happened in 1953 and 63 was important and it mattered. That what’s voting is for. It’s a reminder that we all have a job to do, we all play a part in it.
What are some ways people can start educating themselves?
Definitely, definitely, definitely just search candidates’ names. I think it is really important to do that. If you just search Texas ballot 2018, then you’ll find everything and you’ll be able to find information on both of those candidates. It’s really important to turn off the news for a little bit and just read. It’s a lot. It’s tedious. But if that’s the only the thing we have to give up, an hour to three hours, learning about the people running to be in political office, then that is worth it. We should be doing it. When we cast a vote for someone, then we can hold them accountable. Protests are great, but they mean nothing if we don’t take them to the polls. Social media is fantastic, but if we don’t leave Twitter to go vote, then we’re useless. Just do more. Get in the ring. Be willing to learn. Be willing to compromise, but don’t compromise on the future. Don’t do that. Don’t minimize your impact, because things currently seem small. Understand that we are fighting for a future we cannot see. We are voting for a future that we’ll never see, but that’s okay. If you’re tired of something, then do something.