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Raven Douglas fights for young voter access, engagement

Raven Douglas fights for young voter access, engagement


FEBRUARY 28, 2020 — As Raven Douglas ’18 wrote an op-ed for MTV News about the importance of polling places on college campuses earlier this month, memories from her freshman year at UTSA came flooding back.

Douglas is now the political director for MOVE Texas, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization working throughout the state to advance voting access and engagement for young Texans.

But her journey to this prominent role—and the fight she fights every day—started in earnest on her very first day as a Roadrunner.

Within the same few hours that she moved into Laurel Village as a freshman, she met an organizer who registered her to vote and gave her the inspiration to make her voice heard in a 2015 Texas constitutional election. “I didn’t realize until three years later that that was a MOVE organizer,” Douglas said. “It kind of seems like I was destined to end up in this work.”

Her journey to this prominent role—and the fight she fights every day—started in earnest on her very first day as a Roadrunner.

Her passion for voter engagement and policy would blossom over the ensuing years at UTSA as she majored in political science and became involved with notable programs, thanks in large part to connections she made through the Honors College. Douglas worked for America Votes, a coordination hub for the progressive community, based in Washington, D.C., through the Archer fellowship program.

In 2017 she was selected to participate in the Texas Legislative Program, giving her the opportunity to intern in the Texas Legislature under the tutelage of state Sen. Nicole Collier.

All the while, she never stopped empowering young voters on campus and in the San Antonio community. She became a very active volunteer member for MOVE Texas (then known as MOVE San Antonio) and cofounded the Undergraduate Political Science Association at UTSA. Unsurprisingly, she served as its director of civic engagement.

Raven Douglas on Becoming a Voter Advocate

Even her undergraduate research showcased issues in voting access. With the help of political science professor Walt Wilson, she presented her 2018 thesis, “Before and After the Texas Voter ID Law,” which dove into how SB14 affected voter turnout among communities of color during the 2014 midterm election.

Although Douglas initially planned to pursue a law career after earning her bachelor’s degree at UTSA, she found disenchantment and a new calling after serving as an intern in the Texas Legislature.

“One of the things I saw in the legislature every day was that there was a lot of good policy being ruined by bad politics,” Douglas said. “Lobbyists have a big influence on the legislation that’s passed, and there are decisions made behind closed doors that affect millions of Texans.”

She was inspired to help those millions of Texans wrestle away that political power by encouraging them to become educated voters and stuff the ballot box.

Douglas moved into a leadership development role for MOVE Texas shortly before graduating from UTSA and then became the organization’s deputy director in August 2018. She managed a statewide team of field organizers, fellows and interns to register 30,000 voters that year in addition to planning and executing MOVE’s expansion to Dallas. She was also representing MOVE at conferences, public events and advocacy functions to engage with donors and partner organizations.

One of those partners just so happened to be MTV, which awarded Douglas the 2019 MTV Leaders for Change grant to help MOVE Texas achieve its goal of registering 70,000 Texans to vote in 2020.

There’s still time for early voting on UTSA’s Main Campus.
Learn more about MOVE Texas.
Explore opportunities in UTSA’s Honors College. 

MTV has shared photos from MOVE’s events and published Douglas’ commentary pieces. She’s hopeful that the network can collaborate with MOVE on a party at the polls or a Rock the Vote kind of concert as the November election approaches. “It’s cultivating into a great relationship,” Douglas said.

Earlier this month Douglas was named the new political director for MOVE Texas. In this role she’ll be doing much more in the way of advocacy. “I’ll be working with elected officials to really ensure that policies are being passed that positively impact not only young people but also communities of color,” she said.

Her new role keeps her busy. She was working in Houston last week, San Antonio this week, and will be in Washington, D.C., for a conference next week. But as long as she can continue to get young people interested in voting and actively engaging with elections on local, state and national levels, she’s certainly not sweating the effort.

“Being able to travel through this work—meet other young people, meet other community partners—has really opened up this entire world of political organizing to me that I didn’t previously know,” she said. “This is really my true passion.”

Shea Conner

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