Texas House bill proposes adding student IDs as accepted form of voter identification


Julius Shieh

Campaign and voting signs crowd a grassy patch near the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center, one of two on-campus polling places at UT.

Isabella Zeff, General News Reporter

A proposed Texas House Bill would make student identification cards an accepted form of voter ID, which advocates say would make voting more accessible to students.

House Bill 75, currently facing discussion in the Elections Committee, would add student IDs issued from a Texas public institution to the list of accepted voter IDs, like a Texas driver’s license.

“The idea of voting can be daunting, especially when we’re in a state like Texas that has really stringent voting laws,” said Ana Fuentes, co-director of Hook the Vote, a civic engagement organization within Student Government. “Being able to use your student ID (to vote) would definitely put students’ minds at ease.”

Libby McTaggart, co-director of Hook the Vote, said student voter participation would increase if students could use their UT ID card rather than having to provide a Texas ID or proof of Texas residency. She said the bill would especially help out-of-state students who do not typically have a Texas driver’s license.

“It would cut through a lot of the barriers to voting,” McTaggart said. “A lot of our work at Hook the Vote is marketing voting as something that’s accessible, something that’s necessary, something that could be fun to do. This would make it all the more efficient.”

Soufia Ali, a radio-television-film and health and society senior, said she advocates for the bill with Young Invincibles, a national organization dedicated to involving young people in the political process.

“We’re seeing more and more legislation in Texas trying to oppress the voices of young adults,” said Ali, the central Texas organizing coordinator with Young Invincibles. “We decided to advocate for this bill and other bills like this to open the discourse and continue to move the needle in the right direction to uplift the voices of young adults in our generation.”

Fuentes said the bill has been brought up in the Texas legislature before, but it usually does not reach the House floor for a vote.

“It’s upsetting to see how there’s not really a priority to ensure that students are able to vote on campus with ease,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes said students living at UT and the surrounding areas have the potential to be a powerful voting group in the state.

“Historically, student voter turnout is very low,” McTaggart said. “But we’re still being affected by the bills that the Texas legislature makes and bills that the U.S. legislature makes and so it’s necessary that students do their part.”