12:13 PM

UHD Students, Community March to the Polls During 'Walk 2 Vote' Rally

As we get closer to the November 2016 United States elections, candidates are competing for the millennial ­vote - and for good reason. The millennial vote can be a powerful tool in winning elections and there's no question that many political parties will be nudging them to the voting polls.

According to an analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center, millennials are now as large of a political force as baby boomers, and both generations are roughly 31 percent of the overall electorate. But it's no secret that millennials (adults ages 18-35) continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. Well, millennial college students at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) are pulling up their boot straps in efforts to help change this.

On Oct. 26, hundreds of UHD students, local community partners and dignitaries, united to celebrate "Walk 2 Vote," an event that aims to empower voter participation and increase civic engagement.

Hosted by UHD's Student Government Association (SGA), the event kicked off with an introduction from John Locke, UHD student and SGA director of external affairs. The rally featured Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and daughter Ashley Turner; hip-hop artists Bun B and Trae tha Truth; comedian Ali Siddiq and UHD professor and Houston Poet Laureate Robin Davidson. Candidates running for local offices also were in attendance.

Turner praised the crowd for their participation and the city for its rich diversity and inclusion.

"In this city, we don't build up walls, we build relationships," he said. "This is the most diverse city in the country and we embrace everybody. We're trying to build up our neighborhoods and communities, so we need everybody to go out and vote and take it seriously and it starts right here on the campus of UHD. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. I'm just going to tell you to vote."

Local community partners with Walk 2 Vote included Mi Familia Vota, Neighborhood Centers Inc., Texas Freedom Network, Texas Organizing Network, KTRK ABC13, and KXLN Univision 45.

The rally closed with inspiring remarks from hip-hop rapper Bun B.

"Don't just think that voting is the end of it," he said. "Once we find out who is in office, we have to hold these people accountable, especially if you're living in the districts that they're representing. The candidates, who are walking around asking for your vote, I encourage you to get their numbers, find out where their campaign offices are, and most importantly, if they win, hold these public officials accountable."

"Remember, to do this, you have to be part of the process. That's why we're here today to make a change. I'm going to be at the front of the line to show you where to make this change."

After the remarks, attendees marched from the campus to the Harris County Tax Office (1001 Preston St.) to vote in early elections for national, state and local races.