Texas Law Might Restrict Polling Places In Schools

State Representative Carrie Isaac’s (R) bill would forbid polling places from being located on any college campuses throughout the state.

On Thursday, House Bill 2390 was submitted to the Texas Legislature. Isaac stated in a release that it is a concern for student safety.

With two weeks of early voting, Texas has one of the nation’s longest early voting periods, according to Isaac. We shouldn’t attract visitors to our campuses who wouldn’t otherwise be there, in my opinion.

According to Isaac, she is also drafting legislation that would outlaw polling stations in K–12 public and charter schools.

However many people, notably State Senator José Menéndez (D) and Senator Nathan Johnson disagree with Isaac’s viewpoints (D).

The two introduced an opposing bill in November that would mandate that higher education institutions with at least 5,000 students have at least one main campus polling station. Also, two campus locations would be required for universities with at least 10,000 students enrolled, in addition to an additional voting place for every subsequent 10,000 students.

Voting rights activists claim that the law is a deliberate attack on the influence of young voters in politics. Young voters’ advocacy group MOVE Texas criticized the law, claiming it might try to silence them.

Access is the key to this, according to MOVE Texas’ Alex Birnel. “Every time a voting site is closed, a space for exercising a person’s right is also closed. Young college students may be more engaged in voting for the rest of their lives if we can persuade them to do so. This is a strategy to weaken the growing influence of young voters.”

Students Are Not Much Happy With The Bill

Some Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi students expressed concern that they might not have easy access or the chance to vote in between courses.

“According to graduate student Ethan Clarke, “We see that time and time again: if it appears like your candidate isn’t going to win, you don’t even bother trying. People just aren’t going to vote if it’s out of the way. Even obtaining the option to send in ballots is difficult. I believe we are doomed if they take away our capacity to cast a ballot by simply walking down the hall.”

Because they can hold a large number of voters and are well-known in the community, universities and schools are frequently used as polling centers.

Isaac pointed out that there are other possibilities, such as the ability to vote by mail or the provision for colleges to transport students to the polling places.

The law takes effect on September 1 if it is passed.

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