If your vote meant nothing, they would not try so hard to stop you

Ric Galvan

Everything is bigger in Texas, including voter suppression. Before 1965, Texas required literacy tests before allowing individuals to register to vote, and then taxed them if they did so. After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013, Texas closed over 400 polling locations across the state and passed strict voter ID laws that still do not allow students to use their school IDs as a form of identification at the polls. And with COVID-19, like most things, voter suppression in Texas has gotten worse.

With the onset of COVID-19, many Texans thought they would be allowed to register to vote online, register to vote on the same day of the election and have vote-by-mail ballots available to all voters like the majority of states in the U.S. They were wrong. Ruth Hughs, Texas’ Secretary of State, has refused to allow voters to vote by mail if they are concerned about COVID-19. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has made it clear that anyone who attempts to vote by mail out of fear this November could be charged with attempting voter fraud — a state felony that would strip the individual’s right to vote altogether. Counties across the state are making different rules on how to handle in-person voting during the pandemic, some successfully making great strides to make this year’s election safe and accessible. 

At UT, we take for granted our two regular on-campus polling locations, while universities like Baylor University and Huston-Tillotson University still have no on-campus polling locations at all. In Brazos County, home to Texas A&M University, students in the political group Texas Rising have been calling for a second on-campus polling location, but have been met with frequent resistance from the county and university. Harris County is currently attempting to send all registered voters applications to vote by mail so anyone who is eligible can apply as soon as possible. As I write this, the Texas Attorney General is currently attempting to halt such efforts. 

The fight for voting rights is still ongoing. Learn how to register to vote now by visiting txrising.org/register. If your vote meant nothing, they would not try so hard to stop you.

Galvan is a history junior and the Texas Rising Central Texas Campus Organizer.