Our vote should not be silenced

Main point.

The Editorial Board

The voting machines at the LBJ Student Center were the last of 49 polling locations in the county to be turned in to be tallied, with students waiting upward of four hours to cast their ballots. This fact showcases a system that is broken and fails to provide students with the means to exercise their rights.

In a just representative democracy, elections administrators are tasked to create a system by which most people can vote with as little resistance as possible. This is a notion that Hays County must implement in order to better serve its community—both students and longtime residents.

The LBJSC was granted a temporary polling location for three days of early voting in the 2018 midterm elections, excluding Election Day. After the third day of early voting, it was obvious the university polling location would need an extended timeframe as long lines were wrapping around the building.

Overwhelming cries to extend the duration of in early voting were further fueled in an email correspondence from North Hays GOP President Wally Kinney urging the community to vote against the voting extension for the students of Texas State.

Kinney claimed that allowing the extension would benefit the Democratic party. He was not completely wrong in raising concerns. According to polling use data from the Hays County Election Office, 94% of the people who voted at the LBJSC voted on a Democratic ballot.

“If we are to change the rules in the middle of the game, it favors Democrats and we sure don’t want that in this—what is going to be—a close election as it is,” Kinney wrote in the email.

The fact that Kinney wanted to make it harder for the student body to vote because it would benefit the Democratic party is an act of blatant political partisanship.

Democracy in America should be coddled, not disrespected.

The Texas Civil Rights Project sent a demand letter to Hays County threatening legal action if they did not allow the extension and claiming complete removal of the polling location would be unconstitutional.

Hays County commissioners quickly voted to expand voting hours on campus, also adding Election Day hours. Voting is a right, and accessibility should be required, not demanded.

Hays County saw voter turnout in 2018 that surpassed turnout in 2016—this outcome should have served as an indicator for elections to come.

Nearby universities do not struggle to accommodate their student populations with on-campus polling locations, including The University of Texas, which holds roughly 13k more students than Texas State. Its two on-campus polling locations moved without significant issues and were aided by extra polling booths and check-in resources.

The Texas State student body makes up more than half of the San Marcos population. Even still, some members of the San Marcos community would rather students avoid voting because on average they only inhabit the city for four years.

Although the sentiment is endearing, the fact that four years accounts for a presidential term should relay that that time span means something. For four years, the student body makes San Marcos their home. We pay taxes and contribute to the community businesses and events.

Hays County should actively be working to make sure a delay like that of the LBJSC does not happen again. Whether they implement another location on campus or merely work harder on obtaining the proper resources to ensure the voting process runs smoother, a change must be made.

For four years, we are here and that matters. Our vote matters.

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