News Column

Early Voting Can't Come Soon Enough for Some First-Timers

Oct. 22, 2012

Robert Stanton

As early voting begins today in Texas, perhaps few are as excited as first-time voter Samantha Noriega of Houston, who is the first member of her family to vote in a U.S. election.

"I can make a change with my one vote," said Noriega, 19, a senior at Jefferson Davis High School. "It'll make a difference because we get to pick our president. It feels good."

Noriega is among an estimated 90 Jeff Davis students who have registered to vote in the Nov. 6 general election, said principal Jaime Castaneda. The school at 1101 Quitman is home to 1,600 students, of which about 86 percent are Hispanic, roughly 90 percent receive free or reduced-price lunches, and about 89 percent considered drop-out risks, he said.

Students at the school took part in a parade Monday to encourage the community to get out and vote. The parade began at the school and headed to Holy Name Catholic Church at 1917 Cochran St., where early voting was taking place for the first time in the northeast Houston community.

The students' excitement was evident in the colorful posters that lined the school's fence, many supporting the school district's upcoming $1.9 billion bond election that, if it passes, would rebuild or renovate most of the district's aging high schools, remodel a handful of elementary and middle schools, and upgrade campus technology.

When he learned about of the posters, Castaneda ordered them taken down, saying the school takes no official position on the bond issue.

"This is a time when voters have so much to say into what's going to happen in the next four years, so our thing is to wake up the community to come out and vote," Castaneda said.

Voters have until Nov. 2 to cast an early ballot. For more information, visit www.harrisvotes.org.



Source: (c)2012 the Houston Chronicle Distributed by MCT Information Services