Missing Out: Texas High Schools Way Behind On Voter Registration Mandate

Ask any teacher or principal at a Texas High School, and they can immediately tell you that in their job, they have a lot to do.  Teaching course curriculum, supervising their classrooms, meeting benchmarks, planning for the safety of their schools.  It’s a lot to contend with in most any machination.

Given that this is the case, it’s probably not a surprise that most Texas High School Administrators are paying less attention to the state laws around voting than they are the state graduation requirements.  As Ashley Lopez of KUT Austin reports, this seems to be the case for an overwhelming majority of our state’s high schools.

Roughly a third of Texas high schools have requested voter registration forms from the Texas Secretary of State’s office, a new report from the Texas Civil Rights Project finds.

Requesting forms from the state agency is the first step schools must take so they can register students to vote. Texas law requires schools to give eligible students these forms at least twice each school year.

While the percentage of schools following the law is low at 34 percent, it’s higher than what it was in 2016 – a mere 14 percent.

Researchers looked at requests for voter registration forms by high schools “from the close of voter registration for the last presidential election (October 2016) to the close of voter registration for this year’s first round primaries (February 2018).”

With 66 percent of Texas High Schools not requesting a single Voter Registration form for eligible students, the news can seem pretty bleak.  But a couple of factors can affect this particular law.  For one thing, the Texas Civil Rights Project report strongly suspects that most high schools don’t even know this law exists, as it has not been enforced in recent memory.  Because the state never talks about this law, there’s a good chance many principals do not know about it.  So putting the knowledge out there will help to recruit some school administrators that may not have previously known to comply.

But as disheartening as the news maybe, it also presents a rare opportunity.  With more than sixty days to go before the 2018 General Election Voter Registration Deadline (October 9th), parents, students, and concerned community members have the ability to inquire about these practices at their local schools.  With some careful planning and hard work, there is still time to get many more interested students access to Voter Registration Forms.

If you’re an administrator reading this post, here is the direct link to the form needed to request official Voter Registration Forms be sent to your High School.  Though we all hope the day when the Texas Secretary of State will simply send the forms to our schools and HELP our students to exercise their rights as citizens, we can still make an impact right now.

Most voting age citizens of Texas also have the ability to become Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrars, which is a great way to encourage voter registration in your community.  Many groups even organize workshops to help citizens through the process, but here are the steps to become a VDVR directly from the Texas Secretary of State website.

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