UTPB student sworn in as voter registrar after gaining citizenship - Odessa American: Local News

UTPB student sworn in as voter registrar after gaining citizenship

By Courtney Borchert cborchert@oaoa.com | Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 2:04 pm

A University of Texas Permian Basin student originally from southern Taiwan is ready to help West Texans register to vote just one week after he became a United States citizen.

Sophomore Wei Jin Sun is an honors program student studying computer science at UTPB. He was appointed a volunteer deputy registrar along with about 35 other students.

Amanda Snyder, Ector County Elections Office bilingual and voter outreach coordinator, walked students through final paperwork procedures and reviewed qualifications and appointment details Tuesday morning at the Presidential Archives and Leadership Library.

Sun said it feels great to become a citizen and views the decision to register fellow citizens to vote as more than just a program requirement for community service. He said taking this step is an opportunity to give back to a country that has given him greater access to higher education options.

Associate Professor of Art Chris Stanley said the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has pushed teamwork, social responsibility and personal responsibility as core curriculum objectives in recent years.

Stanley said faculty initially approached state Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, about five years ago for an idea on how to achieve these aims in a meaningful way.

“He said just register people to vote,” Stanley said.

Sophomore biology major Joshua Delgado was another UTPB student sworn in as a voter registrar, but he said this would not be his first time lending a hand at voter drives around the city. He also signed up last year to help register voters due to his involvement with the honors program.

“I think it’s a good thing to encourage people to get more active in the process, especially since the U.S. as a country has a lower turnout among younger generations,” Delgado said.

He said many residents focus only on presidential elections and forget the impact their vote can have on a local level.

“I don’t think there are enough people who are taking into consideration voting in state and local government elections,” Delgado said.

The elections office has worked to increase voter turnout in the last year by bringing additional voting options like mobile braches to Ector County, and they have expanded outreach efforts to register more people. Snyder reviewed upcoming election cycles with the students and said preparing for the general election in November 2020 starts now.

“That will be a really big election and you’ll want to make sure people are registered to vote,” she said.