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Texas A&M's early voting location was widespread throughout normal elections earlier than it was moved off campus – Gilmer Mirror


Texas A&M’s early voting location was popular during general elections before it was moved off campus” was first printed by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media group that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public coverage, politics, authorities and statewide points.

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When Brazos County officers eliminated an early voting location off Texas A&M College’s campus — a call that spurred accusations of student voter suppression — at the least one county commissioner cited poor voter turnout as a partial cause for the relocation.

However knowledge reveals it was one of many county’s hottest early voting websites in latest normal elections.

Commissioner Nancy Berry, who oversees the precinct that features A&M, talked about turnout on the Memorial Pupil Middle as a supporting think about transferring the polling location to College Station Metropolis Corridor for November’s midterms, according to College Station’s newspaper, The Eagle. And he or she similarly told the Houston Chronicle the situation historically had “second-to-last in voter turnout” of the 5 early voting areas — one thing that Kristina Samuel, an A&M senior and president of voter engagement group MOVE Texas A&M, mentioned she was additionally instructed.

Based on Brazos County in-person voting knowledge reviewed by The Texas Tribune, the MSC had the county’s second-highest variety of early voters within the 2018 and 2020 normal elections. The county’s knowledge reveals that the MSC acquired 56,439 early voting ballots in 2018. The quantity fell in the course of the pandemic in 2020 to 14,717 early votes, however this was according to dips in any respect different polling areas within the county.

When requested about these figures, Berry instructed the Tribune that what she meant by turnout was the quantity of voters in comparison with the quantity of people that attend the college. She mentioned the focus of individuals on campus ought to have introduced extra early voters to the polling location.

“Whenever you consider 70,000 folks which might be proper there after which you’ve got one other [120,000] which might be unfold all through the county, and that’s not the very best voting website, although you’ve got that prime inhabitants of individuals,” she mentioned. “That was the purpose that it was a decrease turnout quantity relative to the remainder of the county.”

However Patrick Flavin, a political science professor at Baylor College, mentioned the excessive quantity of people that solid ballots on campus within the earlier normal elections ought to justify utilizing it once more. Berry had said that she can be in favor of bringing the MSC again for early voting subsequent yr.

And calculating voter turnout by early voting location isn’t so simple.

In Brazos County, there’s one polling location in every of the 4 precincts — plus one on the county elections administrator’s workplace — for early voting. Registered voters within the county are capable of solid their poll at any early voting websites as an alternative of getting to stay to a delegated precinct

Flavin mentioned that some college students who voted may have solid ballots at different areas. And, he mentioned, some voters who don’t attend A&M could have used the MSC as an early voting location.

“To me, the uncooked numbers is a way more correct take a look at than primarily based on how many individuals are in that space,” he mentioned.

Then again, it’s true that votes solid on the MSC had been among the many fewest complete early vote counts in the course of the main elections in 2022, 2020 and 2018. However Texas typically has traditionally seen limited participation in main races.

For Samuel, whose nonpartisan group champions voter engagement, the shortage of communication round such nuance was “extraordinarily deceptive.”

“They’re going to poke and seize any sort of proof used to justify that call when in actuality, it was simply not a properly thought-out determination,” she mentioned.

Past turnout, Berry has largely attributed the choice to maneuver the situation off campus to complaints from nonstudents who mentioned navigating the campus was tough. Because the unique determination, officers have mentioned eliminating the situation was a mistake. County commissioners mentioned the choice once more final week, however in the end decided not to restore the MSC early voting location after native officers mentioned it could be logistically tough so near the Oct. 24 begin to early voting.

Flavin mentioned research reveals that when the gap to voting areas will increase, the voter turnout decreases. As an alternative, officers ought to prioritize placing polls in inhabitants facilities and close to public transportation to maximise participation.

“Placing one on a college campus to me would make a number of sense,” he mentioned.

Within the meantime, Samuel mentioned MOVE Texas A&M is specializing in participating college students and raising funds for shuttle buses to assist transport them to the polls. Berry mentioned the commissioners are additionally taking a look at transportation assist, although no plan had been ironed out by Friday.

“I hope all the scholars get registered and are available vote,” Berry mentioned. “It was a mistake and we’re making an attempt to do the very best we are able to to right it inside the signifies that we now have potential.”

Disclosure: Baylor College, MOVE Texas and Texas A&M College have been monetary supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan information group that’s funded partially by donations from members, foundations and company sponsors. Monetary supporters play no function within the Tribune’s journalism. Discover a full list of them here.

This text initially appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/10/04/brazos-county-early-voting-a-m/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and fascinating Texans on state politics and coverage. Be taught extra at texastribune.org.


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