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The Texas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has issued an Advisory Memorandum examining potential barriers to voting in Texas that may have a discriminatory impact on voters based on race, color, sex, disability status, and national origin. The memorandum, informed by a series of public panel discussions held by the Committee in March of this year, offers an in-depth examination of potential barriers to voter registration, access to and administration of polling locations, and language access concerns. The findings and recommendations included in the memorandum will provide state-level input to the Commission’s planned 2018 Statutory Enforcement Report on voting rights in the U.S.
The Committee identified a number of concerns, including: widespread confusion and misinformation among Texas voters about voter registration; state voter registration procedures are not compliant with the National Voter Registration Act; widespread noncompliance and lack of uniform implementation of the State’s high school voter registration mandate; the State’s strict Voter Deputy Registrar rules are a barrier to registering voters; potential disenfranchisement of voters due to changes in polling location and voting procedures; inadequate poll workers training on how to address the needs voters with disabilities; and numerous counties appear to be failing to comply with federal requirements regarding language assistance at polling locations. In an effort to help remedy these concerns, the Committee developed recommendations directed to the U.S. Department of Justice, Texas Secretary of State and its Election Division, Legislature, and County Election Administrators.
Committee Chair Mimi Marziani said, “Even with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, our Committee agrees that voter registration and access to the polls must be fair, secure and equally available to all eligible Texans. Unfortunately, our findings demonstrate that Texas has a long way to go before these ideals are a reality. We hope that policy-makers take seriously the many concerns we heard from Texans of all stripes and work together to strengthen our democracy.”