Disenfranchisement seems to be the word of the season as Texas voters encounter more hurdles at their polling places, this time college students are having trouble due to new voter ID laws. According to KUT, the March 1 primary was the first national election held since the new laws went into effect, and the issues are more visible now because students are more likely to vote in national elections.
The transient nature of students is the largest hurdle, as many of them are currently living in a county different from where they are registered.
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Ariana Sonsino, a student at UT Austin, said she tried voting, but found out she was registered in the wrong county. “I got to the front of the line, [and] I was rejected because I was registered in Bexar County, so I couldn’t vote in Travis County,” Sonsino said.
Students aren’t the only ones having trouble at the polls due to the 2011 voter identification law, and even those students who take all of the proper steps are finding that the have to jump through more and more hoops to be able to exercise their right to vote.
“I felt like I tried to do all of the right things, you know,” UT student Vanessa Beltran told KUT. “I had registered in my hometown, and then when I got here I registered in Austin. Then, being a student, I changed addresses one year to the other, so I changed my address. Even so, when I got to the polling station I had to fill out a change-of-address form because it hadn’t been processed, even though I did that quite a while ago.”
Travis County also faced controversy a few weeks ago during early voting when some polling locations did not operate under their scheduled hours.