Texas law requires every public and private high school in the state to distribute voter registration applications to eligible students at least twice a school year. That law, enacted in 1985, could make Texas a leader in youth registration and turnout. Instead, it is the third worst in the country.
What explains the gap between the law’s promise and that alarming reality? Compliance is abysmal. So abysmal that in 2016 a mere 198 out of 1,428 public high schools in Texas requested voter registration applications from the Secretary of State (SOS). Worse, none of the nearly 1,800 private high schools in Texas requested applications despite being fully subject to the law.
For four years, the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) have repeatedly brought this pressing issue to the attention of the Secretary of State. Though the Texas government has never attempted to assess whether high schools comply with the law, TCRP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have conducted multiple surveys, requested records, and compiled data analyses, all of which amount to overwhelming and indisputable evidence that substantive reforms are urgently required.