The right to vote is fundamental. Still, however, Texas voters continue to face obstacle after obstacle just to participate in the democratic process. Millions of eligible voters remain shut-out of the democratic process, a disparate number of whom are young, poor, and people of color.
From our bottom-of-the-barrel voter turnout to the complex system of voter registration laws, the need for democracy reform in Texas has never been more critical. Indeed, President Obama recently noted that Texas lags behind other states “because the folks who are currently governing the good state of Texas aren’t interested in having more people participate.”
The Texas Civil Rights Project focuses its work on tackling the systemic issues that suppress voting rights in Texas – from voter registration to the moment an individual casts their ballot.
Through our legal advocacy, TCRP is turning the tide on the state’s abysmal voting rights record by removing barriers to voter registration, supporting grassroots voter mobilization efforts, and opposing new attempts to suppress voting. No other legal advocacy organization in Texas is focused on these issues.
For over four 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 to ensure that high school students get a fair shot at participating in the democratic process and improve the state’s bottom-of-the-barrel voter registration and turnout.
In early 2016, TCRP sued Texas for refusing to register eligible voters who update their information through the Department of Public Safety website, a practice that violates the U.S. Constitution and the federal “motor voter” law.
We spearheaded the coordinated non partisan election protection in Texas, connecting the national efforts of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law with local grassroots initiatives and training dozens of legal volunteers in Texas to answer calls from a national hotline and help voters in select polling locations.
Under the National Voter Registration Act, eligible voters have a right to register to vote every time they update or renew their driver’s license with DPS. The Plaintiffs, all eligible voters, attempted to update their driver’s licenses and voter registration records through DPS’ website but the state disregarded their registration request. When the Plaintiffs tried to vote, they were not allowed to cast a regular ballot.