Texas representative introduces bill to ban polling locations at college campuses

Madeline Duncan, Senior News Reporters

Republican Texas Representative Carrie Isaac introduced a house bill to prohibit Texas counties from placing voting locations on college campuses earlier this month. If enacted, HB 2390 would take effect September 2023.

Isaac, the representative for Texas District 73, said she introduced the bill to promote students’ safety on campus during election season. Opponents of the bill claim it was proposed in an effort to make it more difficult for college students to vote. Isaac said these claims are untrue. 

“I have the utmost confidence in our young adults here in Texas — that they will be able to vote and will vote at a polling location no matter where it is located,” Isaac said. 

Amber Mills, an advocacy organizer at MOVE Texas — a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization started to promote civic engagement among young adults — said the bill is a blatant attempt to suppress student votes.

“For many of the students who live on campus, this is their only opportunity to be able to vote,” Mills said. “Between busy class schedules, working long hours and working multiple jobs, sometimes they can’t really get on or off campus to go to a different polling location.” 

Isaac said prohibiting counties from putting polling places on college campuses would prevent outsiders from entering college campuses, which creates a safety issue.  

“In Texas, we have one of the longest early voting periods of any state in the nation,” Isaac said. “Our polls are open for two weeks all day, every day. I believe that it’s not wise to invite people onto our school campuses that would otherwise not have any business there. Emotions run very high a lot of times with politics, and I don’t believe we should wait until something really bad happens to act.”

UT is a public university, and visitors and community members are allowed in most University buildings. In the last midterm election, UT had two polling locations, one in the Flawn Academic Center and one in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Textiles and apparel freshman Katarina Strimple said she would be much less likely to vote if she did not have access to a polling location on campus. 

“The day I did go to vote, I was busy with classes, and it would have been harder to find time to go in my car and find a polling location,” Strimple said. 

Strimple said she felt the bill was an attempt by Republicans to suppress the votes of Generation Z college students because their votes tend to be for the Democratic Party. In the 2020 presidential election, 58% of Gen Z voted for President Joe Biden, a higher margin than any other generation, according to Pew Research Center

Mills said banning polling places from college campuses is not the best way to promote school safety.  

“We do want to promote public safety; that is a top priority for us,” Mills said. “I do not agree that banning public or campus polling locations is the way to do it. If it were up to me, I would be focusing on things to address gun violence rather than taking away campus polling locations from students.”