RELEASE: Civil rights groups demand that Texas officials ensure compliance with high school voter registration law
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Contact: Melissa Martinez
Contact: Derrick Robinson
Groups release new report on lack of compliance with law
Austin, TX — Today, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Voto Latino and League of Women Voters of the Austin Area called on Texas officials take action to ensure compliance with Texas’s High School Voter Registration law after releasing an exhaustive report revealing that less than 6 percent of all Texas high schools even request voter registration applications from the Secretary of State in the fall of 2016.
In the report, TCRP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law reveal a complete failure by Texas officials to ensure compliance with the high school voter registration law, which requires every public and private high school to offer voter registration opportunities to eligible students at least twice a year.
While the law should make Texas a national leader in youth registration and turnout, the opposite is true. To correct this grave failure, TCRP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law suggest, among other things, that, rather than requiring schools to request voter registration forms, the Texas Secretary of State should affirmatively send the forms directly to high schools.
Beth Stevens, Voting Rights Director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, said:
“Texas has a long standing law which requires high schools to offer eligible students the opportunity to register to vote at least twice a school year. The law requires the Texas Secretary of State to ensure implementation of the law occurs. The Secretary is failing at this part of his job. This unique law should make Texas a leader in youth voter registration and turnout. But that’s not the reality in Texas. Instead, Texas ranks third worst in the country.We were pleased to see the Secretary’s recent op-eds indicating he is committed to making compliance with this law a priority. We look forward to the Secretary actually taking concrete steps to demonstrate the commitment, starting with the commons sense reforms discussed in the report. ”
Brendan Downes, Voting Rights Project Associate Counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said:
“This law hasn’t worked for 30 years. Unless the Secretary takes substantive, concrete steps to make it easier for high school principals to comply, it won’t work for another 30.”
Denali Kervella, Student Leader for Voto Latino, said:
“Texas serves as ground zero on many of the country’s biggest and most important fights against attacks on Latino communities. Officials have a moral obligation to provide our youth the opportunity to engage in our political system and be given a voice on issues that impact their futures. We urge the Texas Secretary of State to act now, and not let our young people be left out of the civic process.”
Cinde Weatherby, Board President of the League of Women Voters of the Austin Area, said:
“The League of Women Voters of Texas knows that if we are able to facilitate and inspire a young person to vote in the first election for which they are eligible, there is a greater likelihood they will continue to be voters throughout their lifetimes. It starts with voter registration, and the most efficient way to reach out to them is through the school system – both public and private.”