Most Texas high schools are violating law by not giving students chance to register to vote: report

Most Texas high schools are violating law by not giving students chance to register to vote: report
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Most Texas high schools are reportedly violating the law by not giving eligible students the opportunity to register to vote. 

The Texas Observer, citing a new report from the Texas Civil Rights Project, reports that two-thirds of high schools in the state are not following a law that requires them to hand out voter registration applications to all students who will be 18 years old that school year. 

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The law mandates that schools offer students applications at least twice per year, but compliance has been "abysmal," according to the Observer. 

The lack of compliance reportedly means that hundreds of thousands of potential voters have been left off the rolls.

The report indicates that only a third of Texas high schools with more than 20 seniors asked for voter registration forms from the secretary of state’s office since the 2016 presidential election. 

The problem exists across the state, according to the report. 

James Slattery, one of the report’s authors, said that blame lies with school principals and Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos.

“Instead of working with civic engagement groups, parents and students, the secretary’s office has dragged its feet in implementing common-sense reforms to help high schools comply with the law,” Slattery said in the report, according to The Observer. 

The Observer also notes that the Texas Civil Rights Project surveyed 290 Texas high schools and found that only 14 percent had received any guidance from the secretary of state about voter registration. 

Pablos said in a statement to the Observer that the state is addressing the issue

“Since we began our efforts last year, compliance has more than doubled among Texas high school principals,” he said. “We have taken a number of steps to remove barriers for principals, encourage community involvement, and implement accountability measures to the maximum extent allowed under the current law.”

The report's authors believe a way to improve the issue would be for the secretary of state’s office to automatically send the forms to schools. Currently, administrators must request them.

They also write that the secretary's office should offer online trainings for voter registrars and that it should create a publicly available database showing which schools are registering students.