06 Sep RELEASE: Secretary of State of Texas releases letter and FAQ on high school voter registration

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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 7, 2016

Contact: Zenén Jaimes Pérez, Communications Director
Phone: 512.474.5073 ext. 116
Email: zenen@texascivilrightsproject.org

 

RELEASE: Secretary of State of Texas releases letter and FAQ on high school voter registration

The Texas Civil Rights Project, the Texas Organizing Project, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and others will monitor to ensure full compliance with election code

 

Austin, TX — Last week, the Secretary of State of Texas released a letter to all high school principals in the state reminding them of their legal obligation to register eligible high school students to vote. The Secretary also released an accompanying notice to students as well as a new FAQ document on the responsibilities of high school principals under the law.

This renewed effort comes after much advocacy from the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Texas Organizing Project, and other organizations working to promote voter registration in Texas.

For over three 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. The the Texas Organizing Project and the Lawyers’ Committee began collaborating with TCRP on this issue early this year.  The letter released last week by the Secretary will help high school principals comply with the law and instill greater democratic participation among their students.

As high schools ramp up their voter registration efforts in advance of the upcoming October 11 deadline, we will work with the Secretary to monitor and encourage compliance with the law.

Mimi Marziani, Executive Director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, said:

“Research shows that voting is habit forming, which is one of the many reasons that registering high school students to vote is so important — it can jumpstart a lifetime of active participation. In Texas, high school principals have a legal duty to register eligible students to vote, twice a year. The letter released by the Secretary is a first step toward ensuring compliance with state election code and increasing the number of students exercising their rights at the ballot box this November.”

Brendan Downes, Associate Counsel, Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, said:

“We welcome the Secretary’s recommitment to enforcing this crucially important law. We are hopeful that this effort will get a voter registration application into the hands of every eligible high school student in Texas, just as the law requires.”

Antonio Pelt, Voter Registration Director at the Texas Organizing Project, said:

“We need to begin the process of democratic participation as soon as possible. The letter released by the secretary will help us ensure that all high schools are meeting their duty to help eligible students vote. We’ll be ready to help by organizing students and schools to hold voter registration drives in advance of the deadline.”

 

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The Texas Civil Rights Project uses legal advocacy to empower Texas communities and create policy change. In its twenty-five year history, TCRP has brought thousands of strategic lawsuits, defending voting rights, fighting institutional discrimination, and reforming systems of criminal justice. Today — with dozens of high-caliber attorneys and professionals in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley, and an extensive network of pro bono counsel and community allies — TCRP is among the most influential civil rights organizations in the Lone Star State.