Texas Law Poses Threat to Student Voting
College students in Texas will face stricter registration and voting rules when casting ballots on campus.
By Maria Carrasco // September 15, 2021
A new Texas law that imposes new restrictions on voting could greatly impede students at the polls and limit their ability to register to vote or organize get-out-the-vote activities on campus or off.
Senate Bill 1 is a sweeping piece of legislation that will ban 24-hour and drive-through voting, create new vote-by-mail ID mandates and empower partisan poll watchers by allowing them "free movement" at the polls. Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law last week after the Republican-led Legislature approved it during a second special session. It will go into effect before next year’s state elections. Texas Democrats blocked previous versions of the bill by fleeing the state to prevent the House of Representatives from having a quorum.
Voting experts say the bill will pose challenges for students trying to vote by banning the unsolicited distribution of mail-in ballot applications and restricting how and where they can vote.
“We have got to remember that Texas already is a state that’s very difficult for voting in many ways,” said Robert Brandon, president and CEO of Fair Elections Center, a national nonpartisan voting rights and election reform organization. “And so this increases the barriers to registration and voting in a number of different ways that can have an impact on students.”
Even before the governor signed the bill, “Texas was already arguably the worst state in the country when it comes to access to vote for young people,” said Carolyn DeWitt, president of Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people. “It’s not a surprise Governor Abbott signed this voter suppression bill into law, but it is a disgrace. He continues to implement antidemocracy policies aimed at limiting the power of voters in the state.”
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