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Student Government fights for on-campus runoff election polls

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Students wait in line Oct. 23 for early voting in LBJ Student Center.
Photo by Hannah Jannsen

Student Government unanimously passed a resolution Nov. 12 encouraging Texas State and the city of San Marcos to consistently have on-campus polling locations for runoff elections, including this year’s Dec. 11 runoff election.

The legislation was created after students and community members voiced voter suppression concerns during the Nov. 6 midterm election’s early voting. The backlash encouraged the Hays County Commissioners Court to have an emergency meeting to make necessary changes. Though students received extra early voting polling locations on campus, senators like Sens. Claudia Gasponi and Alexa Browning said they still felt the need to fight voter suppression.

Gasponi and Browning authored the Student Voter Run-Off Policy with hopes to increase voter turnout among students in Precinct 334, which primarily consists of on-campus housing, in the Dec.11 runoff election for City Council Place 4 and Place 5. The resolution states that Texas State’s administration should have an understanding with the city to always have an on-campus polling station for run-off elections and that it should be prior to students’ final exams week.

“Claudia and I both felt it was important because a lot of students do live here,” Browning said. “There are 40,000 of us and obviously we can sway the vote if we all back one candidate. Claudia and I felt like it was a type of voter suppression because a lot of students aren’t being heard in the run-off elections.”

The resolution cites several voter suppression concerns, including the date of the elections and the polling locations and times. According to the resolution, the May 24, 2016 runoff election was held after finals and only one of the registered voters in Precinct 334 voted. Historically, Precinct 334 has the lowest voter turnout in San Marcos.

In addition, it also states that holding the Precinct 334 polling location at Crockett Elementary School and not on campus inhibits students from voting. Texas State does host a polling location in the LBJ Student Center during early voting.

“I support this piece because it does fight voter suppression,” Castillo said. “We struggle with that a lot as students. I am glad the Senate passed the resolution, so we can start working on this problem.”

City Council Place 5 candidate and Texas State faculty Joca Marquez said convenience and timing is a major factor when it comes to voting, especially for runoff elections.

“I think the priority, for now, is to not to try to suppress student votes again,” Marquez said. “The priority now is that when we go into a runoff, students should get to vote before they leave for the semester. It’s so important not to suppress their vote yet again.”

The Dec. 11 run-off election will give voters the option to vote for City Council Place 4 candidates Shane Scott or Mark Rockeymoore. Texas State faculty members Joca Marquez and Rick Henderson will also be up for election for City Council Place 5. If changes are not made to the date, students will only be able to vote during finals week, unless they participate in early voting. Early voting is available in the LBJ Student Center Nov. 28-30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Student Government Senate meetings begin at 7 p.m. every Monday in the LBJ Teaching Theater.

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