Texas Matters: Prairie View A&M Still Fighting For Voting Rights | Texas Public Radio

Texas Matters: Prairie View A&M Still Fighting For Voting Rights

Feb 21, 2020

As early voting is underway in Texas for the Super Tuesday primary – there is no early voting happening on the campus of Prairie View A&M in Waller County in South East Texas.


Prairie View A&M is a historic Black serving university. Founded in 1876, it’s the second oldest public institution of higher learning in Texas.

It’s also long been the center of a debate over voting rights in Texas for African American college students that mirrors much of what has happened across Texas.

In the past students at Prairie View A&M University were required to complete a “residency questionnaire” to prove their eligibility to vote. Also at one point the campus was carved into separate districts to illegally dilute their voting strength. And some student were arrested when they tried to cast ballots, accused of improper voting.

The latest alleged voting suppression is House Bill 1888, passed in the last legislature which ended mobile early voting.

This means right now there is no early voting location on campus at Prairie View A&M. And this comes as a lawsuit is still being litigated over the 2018 midterm elections that accuse Waller County officials of improperly limiting early voting on campus.

Leah Aden is the deputy director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  They are representing students at Prairie View A&M, a historic black serving university in Waller County, who say their right to vote is being restricted.

Who Are The Nonvoters?

While some are fighting for their right to vote – many others ask – why bother?

There is a growing number of nonvoters in America – citizens who are eligible to cast a ballot but don’t.

The knight foundation released a report titled "The 100 Million Project: The Untold Story of American Nonvoters." They surveyed 12,000 persistent nonvoters nationwide and aimed to understand the characteristics of nonvoters, why they are disengaged from the political process and the effect this group could have on the coming election if they turn out at the polls.

Evette Alexander is with the Knight Foundation and worked on the report "The 100 Million Project: The Untold Story of American Nonvoters."

David Martin Davies can be reached at DMDavies@TPR.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi.