TEXAS -- A little-known Texas state law to engage first-time voters is not being strictly enforced, possibly jeopardizing how many youngsters make it to the polls.
Texas mandates that all high schools offer eligible students voter registration forms at least twice per year. But there’s a growing problem - schools are failing to comply.
A new report from the Texas Civil Rights Project found at least two-thirds of all Texas high schools are skirting the voter registration law altogether. As a result, about 183,000 students eligible to vote did not receive registration forms in the last two years.
Advocates like David de la Fuente, a political analyst at Third Way, expressed concern the study shows how an opportunity to turn young Texans into active voters is being wasted.
“This law is affecting all types of Texans,” de la Fuente said. “Schools that do not comply receive no penalty, and schools that do comply receive no reward. This is really a toothless law on the books in Texas.”
The Texas Secretary of State calls voter registration a top priority and pointed out compliance has ticked up over the last year. Still, civil rights groups want to see Texas and other states adopt more inclusive voter registration to help address the issue.
“An easy first step would be implementing online voter registration,” de la Fuente said.
Another suggestion from advocates, have the forms automatically shipped to schools since principals and administrators are formally requesting registration applications.
Already, Texas has a long track record of falling below the national average when it comes to voter registration.