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A group of Texas A&M University students attended Brazos County commissioner hearings for the past two months to discuss one agenda item — the county’s early-voting location.
Historically, Texas A&M hosted the polling location within its campus at the Memorial Student Center. This year, however, the county commissioners put the location up to a vote. With a simple majority, it was decided that the location would be moved to the newly constructed City Hall right in the center of College Station.
County Commissioner Nancy Berry, who oversees the precinct that includes Texas A&M, cited the convenient location of the City Hall as well as low voter turnout at the Texas A&M polling place as reasons for moving the early voting location. However, data obtained by The Texas Tribune showed that it was one of the county’s most popular early-voting sites in recent general elections.
When the Tribune first asked Berry about these figures, she said that what she meant by low voter turnout was that the amount of voters who showed up was much lower than what they expected given the concentration of people on the Texas A&M campus.
Voting FAQ: 2022 midterms
How do I know if I'm registered to vote?
The deadline to register to vote in the 2022 primary election was Oct. 11. Check if you’re registered to vote here.
When can I vote?
Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting ended Nov. 4.
How do I know if I qualify to vote by mail?
This option is fairly limited in Texas. You’re allowed to vote by mail only if: You will be 65 or older by Election Day, you will not be in your county for the entire span of voting, including early voting, you cite a sickness or disability that prevents you from voting in person without needing personal assistance or without the likelihood of injuring your health, you’re expected to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day or you are confined in jail but otherwise eligible (i.e., not convicted of a felony).
Are polling locations the same on election day as they are during early voting?
Not always. You’ll want to check for open polling locations with your local elections office before you head out to vote. Additionally, you can confirm with your county elections office whether election day voting is restricted to locations in your designated precinct or if you can cast a ballot at any polling place.
How can I find which polling places are near me?
County election offices are supposed to post on their websites information on polling locations for Election Day and during the early-voting period by Oct. 18. The secretary of state’s website will also have information on polling locations closer to the start of voting. However, polling locations may change, so be sure to check your county’s election website before going to vote.
What form of ID do I need to bring to vote?
You’ll need one of seven types of valid photo ID to vote in Texas: A state driver’s license, a Texas election identification certificate, a Texas personal identification card, a Texas license to carry a handgun, a U.S. military ID card with a personal photo, a U.S. citizenship certificate with a personal photo or a U.S. passport. Voters can still cast votes without those IDs if they sign a form swearing that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining a proper photo ID or use a provisional ballot. Find more details here.
What can I do if I have trouble voting?
You can contact your county elections official or call the Texas Secretary of State's helpline at 1-800-252-VOTE (8683). A coalition of voting rights groups is also helping voters navigate election concerns through the 866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) voter-protection helpline. The coalition also has hotlines available in other languages and for Texans with disabilities.
In interviews for this story, however, Berry stated that she mistakenly asked for the wrong election numbers.
The decision elicited backlash from students at the university. Among them, MOVE Texas A&M, a nonpartisan student organization that focuses on voter engagement, is fighting to get the location back on campus. The group has also raised over $10,000 to help fund shuttle buses that take students, faculty and staff to City Hall for all of early voting.
Berry has since stated that removing the on-campus early voting location “was a mistake.” The county is contributing $5,000 toward transportation to take student voters to City Hall through an interlocal agreement with Texas A&M.
The county is also planning to reinstate the on-campus polling place for 2023.
This is not a unique case, however. Across Texas, many universities lack on-campus polling sites. Coupled with state laws regarding voter ID and registration, advocate groups say these are barriers that make it harder for young Texans to vote.
Disclosure: MOVE Texas and Texas A&M University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.