Brazos County responds to early voting location backlash from students
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - As the deadline for voter registration approaches, Brazos County has received statewide attention after the Texas Tribune reported on student pushback on the removal of an on-campus early-voting location at Texas A&M University.
Brazos County commissioners met in early July to finalize early voting polling locations, voting 4-1 to operate five early voting centers as suggested by the elections office. There was a notable change in the city of College Station. The new city hall will now be a location instead of the Memorial Student Center located on A&M’s campus.
The decision was made while many students were still away for the summer, and when they learned of the decision, some argued it suppressed their vote.
Trudy Hancock, Brazos County’s Elections Administrator, admits the MSC was a popular early voting location but says “hopefully with [College Station City Hall] only being right across from campus, it is still a viable location for students.”
Hancock says the change was made after Commissioner Nancy Berry was approached by several people who live in the area that felt it was inconvenient to travel to campus to vote. People who lived off campus and didn’t work at the university found it difficult to navigate the traffic and parking.
The MSC location will remain an Election Day polling location.
“We’ve moved for it to a larger location for Election Day and will be staffed heavier and we will have more equipment there, so we should be able to get the students in and out quicker on Election Day,” said Hancock.
There has been some discussion that the MSC could be added as an early voting location up to five days before the election, but Hancock believes this emergency-only option isn’t viable.
“With the decision already being made earlier in the year, programming of all the equipment and preparing the ballot have already been completed and so that doesn’t really fall under the parameters of being an emergency, so the court decided that it was best to leave it where it is currently,” explained Hancock.
She also emphasized this five-day option would make them rush and possibly cause mistakes in the election, something she says they can’t afford to make mistakes with.
The other early voting locations besides College Station City Hall include Arena Hall, Galilee Baptist Church, the Brazos County Elections Office in Bryan, and the College Station Utilities Training Center. Early voting begins on October 24.
There will be two weeks where the early voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.
Find more information at www.brazosvotes.org.
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