Education

Will you be 18 before Nov. 6? Ask your principal about this law

Voters head to the polls for the 2018 midterm primaries at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, TX, Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
Voters head to the polls for the 2018 midterm primaries at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, TX, Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

Not enough Texas high schools comply with a law that calls for providing voter registration information to 18-year-old students on campuses, according to a new report by the Texas Civil Rights Project.

The advocacy group is stressing the need for Texas principals to follow a Texas law that allows high school principals to serve as deputy voter registrars and hand out voter registration applications to students who will be 18 by Election Day. On several campuses, school librarians are also serving as registrars. Only registrars can collect applications.

The report states that only 34 percent of Texas high schools comply with the law comes as campaigns appear to be gearing up for the Nov. 6 mid-term election.

The report also states that not enough educators are even acquainted with the law, stating: “...too many schools and teachers don’t know about a unique Texas law that requires high schools to register eligible students to vote at least twice a year.”

About 340,000 young Texans “should be given the opportunity to register to vote in their senior year of high school,” the report states.



The organization also released a digital map of about 3,000 public and private high schools that indicates which campuses have requested forms from the Texas Secretary of State.

The map can be found on the Texas Civil Rights Project website, texascivilrightsproject.org.

The Texas Civil Rights Project also encouraged people to urge more action by sending a message via social media to Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos.

Pablos’ office issued a statement Tuesday in response to the report, stating that his office is working with high school principals and superintendents to increase statewide compliance with the High School Deputy Voter Registrar program.

“Since we began our efforts last year, compliance has more than doubled among Texas high school principals, as reflected in the report.,” the Texas Secretary of State’s office stated. “We have taken a number of steps to remove barriers for principals, encourage community involvement, and implement accountability measures to the maximum extent allowed under the current law.”

Last year, Pablos sought commitments from superintendents that pledged to get more high school principals to follow the law. He also recognized the first Friday of voting as Student Voting Day — an effort that will be repeated this fall, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

According to the map, North Side and Dunbar high schools in Fort Worth, Central High School in Keller and Richland High School in nearby North Richland Hills are among schools that requested the forms. Schools such as Eastern Hills and Carter-Riverside in Fort Worth are among those listed as not having a request for voter information on file with the state.

Dakota Rudzik, a student activist who graduated from Keller’s Central High School in June, said he registered to vote through his school. But getting his classmates to find out more about voting isn’t an easy task, he told the Star-Telegram in a message.

“A lot of 18 year olds are apathetic because they are so distracted or feel their vote doesn’t count,” Rudzik said.

Dunbar High School Principal Sajade Miller is actively encouraging voter-eligible students to register in time for the Nov. 7 election. The school has created a campus "Go Center," where students can register.

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