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The right to vote is fundamental. Still, however, Texas voters continue to face obstacle after obstacle just to participate in the democratic process. Millions of eligible voters remain shut-out of the democratic process, a disparate number of whom are young, poor, and people of color.
From our bottom-of-the-barrel voter turnout to the complex system of voter registration laws, the need for democracy reform in Texas has never been more critical. Indeed, President Obama recently noted that Texas lags behind other states “because the folks who are currently governing the good state of Texas aren’t interested in having more people participate.”
The Texas Civil Rights Project focuses its work on tackling the systemic issues that suppress voting rights in Texas – from voter registration to the moment an individual casts their ballot.
Through our legal advocacy, TCRP is turning the tide on the state’s abysmal voting rights record by removing barriers to voter registration, supporting grassroots voter mobilization efforts, and opposing new attempts to suppress voting. No other legal advocacy organization in Texas is focused on these issues.
For over four years, TCRP has been investigating compliance with the state’s high school voter registration law and producing detailed reports outlining widespread non-compliance and ignorance of the statute to ensure that high school students get a fair shot at participating in the democratic process and improve the state’s bottom-of-the-barrel voter registration and turnout.
TCRP has set its sights on state agencies that also fail to comply with federal voting rights laws — affecting millions of Texans every year. Currently, we estimate that the Texas electorate is missing 4.4 million voters due to the systemic failures at state agencies. TCRP is the only organization targeting state agencies for failing to comply with voting rights laws. Forcing compliance with these laws would result in a large increase and diversification of Texas’ electorate — making Texas look more like Texas.
Many times in 2017, TCRP was approached by several community groups concerned about the legal liability for their organizations — and the safety of their members and volunteers — if they continue to coordinate civic engagement activities such as voter registration drives, canvassing and public demonstrations. In response, TCRP embarked on a project designed to educate leaders of community groups about voter registration laws and their First Amendment rights as related to civic engagement activities.
Through our Take back the Vote Campaign, TCRP recruited and trained an elite group of nearly a dozen lawyer volunteers — the TCRP Voter Protection Task Force — who will be on call to assist in providing ongoing counsel to these community groups and their volunteers.