The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Mexico fans react after Mexico F Julián Quiñones 73rd-minute goal during the MexTour match between Mexico and Brazil at Kyle Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
‘The stuff of dreams’
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • June 11, 2024

As soon as the Mexico-Brazil soccer match at Kyle Field was announced, Jacob Svetz and Caitlin Falke saw an opportunity.  The match was scheduled...

The Fighting Texas Aggie Band performs at halftime during Texas A&Ms football game against ULM at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.
Gridiron glory to multi-event marvel
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • June 7, 2024

Special teams: Special events  “My favorite thing about an event is seeing the people come into the stadium and seeing their excitement...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

No Action Taken

No Action Taken

The initial decision to exclude the Memorial Student Center, or MSC, as an early voting location for the November 2022 election was decided by the Brazos County Commissioners Court — followed by four months of delays, deliberation and discomfort. The MSC, part of Precinct 3, will be replaced by the College Station City Hall located across Texas Avenue from Texas A&M’s campus. 

June 28 — Commissioner Court delays location approval

The commissioners court decided to table the approval of all early voting locations and hours for the November election after a nearly hour-long debate. 

The MSC soon became a topic of discussion as both the Republican and Democratic county chairs addressed the court.

The Brazos County chair for the Democratic Party, Amy Alge, said she was concerned the MSC had not returned as an early voting location in the proposed plan. 

“I hope that early voting access given in the Novembers of 2016, 2018 and 2020 continues in 2022 and that the MSC polling place situates the ballot box within arm’s reach of about 70,000 Brazos County residents,” Alge said.

Republican County Chair Elianor Vessali, also spoke to the court in agreement with Alge’s concerns.

“I think that the MSC is an important location, especially if you’re going to talk about data and the amount of people that have access to that center,” Vessali said. 

July 5  — Initial vote to exclude MSC

On July 5, the commissioners court approved the previous week’s proposed early voting locations for the November elections.

The proposal remained almost entirely unchanged from the previous week except for the requirement that early voting locations be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the first week of early voting. Precinct 2 Commissioner Ford was the only commissioner not to vote in favor of the proposed locations after an amendment of his own failed to be added to the proposal. 

Ford’s proposed amendment would have added the MSC, Castle Heights Church, Zion Church and Wellborn Community Center as additional early polling locations. This amendment failed to pass due to concerns over the logistical cost raised by local voting officials. 

A&M student senator Ariana Marin was at the meeting and addressed the court on behalf of students in support of keeping the MSC as an early voting location, since many students were away for Fourth of July celebrations.

“Moving the voting from the MSC would disenfranchise a lot of voters,” Marin said. “Some students who live on campus aren’t from anywhere near here, so they don’t have the ability to drive six-plus hours to go back home to vote.”

 Aug. 30 — Students speak up 

Several A&M students attended the Aug. 30 commissioners court meeting to urge the court to overturn its July decision and reinstate the MSC as an early voting location.  

Biology senior Kristina Samuel was one of seven students to speak to the commissioners court during the public comment period of the Aug. 30 meeting to advocate for the MSC early voting location. 

“In 2020, 80% of Brazos County voted early. Students in particular enjoy early voting since we’re able to vote in between classes with much shorter lines,” Samuel said. “It’s all about numbers. We’re trying to get as large of a group as possible to show up so that they can see that this is something that students are very passionate about.” 

Sept. 13 — Chaos in the court

According to the meeting minutes, commissioners court was canceled at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, due to a lack of quorum physically present in the commissioners courtroom. 

Ford initially requested an item regarding the reinstatement of the MSC as an early voting location beginning in 2023 be added to the agenda after receiving an email from Texas Rising Central Texas Campus Organizer Maggie Di Sanza. However, without quorum, the item was not discussed. 

Students from Mobilize, Organize, Vote and Empower, or MOVE, who gathered to speak to the court were left feeling frustrated when they were unable to speak, Samuel said. 

In an interview with The Battalion, Ford said he chose not to attend the meeting due to an ongoing issue with the proposed tax rate in Brazos County — a proposal which could not be passed if he was absent.  

After speaking with her at the meeting, psychology junior and MOVE Civics Engagement Director Sabrina Wren said Precinct 3 Commissioner Nancy Berry considered going back on her initial vote on not including the MSC. However, Precinct 4 commissioner Irma Cauley stayed devoted to her initial decision, citing it would be unfair to the “real residents of Bryan-College Station,” according to Wren. 

Sept. 20 — MSC considered for 2023 elections 

The commissioners court met on Sept. 20 to consider the MSC’s return as an early voting location in 2023. 

The court heard from multiple members of the community during the call for citizen input. After seven citizens came forward to show their support for the MSC, the remaining speakers discussed concerns over the MSC during agenda item No. 8. 

During the discussion of agenda item No. 8, several community members discussed their wish to have the MSC reinstated as an early voting location in November 2022. 

According to the official meeting minutes, County Clerk Karen McQueen said it would be an issue to redo the military ballots due to upcoming deadlines. Elections Coordinator Krystal Ocon agreed with McQueen and stated it was not possible to change the locations for the November 2022 election. 

Berry expressed regret over the decision to remove the MSC as an early voting location, but said it was too late to make any changes for the November 2022 election. However, she spoke in favor of reinstating the MSC in 2023. 

No action was taken.

Sept. 27 — Court finalizes decision

The final decision to not restore the MSC as an early polling location for November 2022 was made at the Sept. 27 commissioners court meeting. Precinct 1 Commissioner Steve Aldrich had previously requested the reinstatement of the MSC for November 2022 be added to the agenda, according to the official minutes recap

Due to the absence of Aldrich, Brazos County Judge Duane Peters suggested removing the item from the agenda, as he felt the issue was not prudent. Berry requested the present city secretaries give commentary before the court took any action. 

College Station City Secretary Tonya Smith said the entities involved in the election had to move forward with the court’s original decision

“This late in the game, adding an additional location, not only will it be a rush, but we’ll also have to go back to our councils and, or our boards to amend our orders calling the elections,” Smith said.

 Smith cited multiple logistical issues preventing the MSC from being reinstated as an early voting location this year. 

 “You must re-test the election equipment, all before Oct. 24, when early voting starts,” Smith said. “Rushing causes mistakes — mistakes in elections are detrimental. Then there is the cost of adding another polling location, that most of us did not budget for.” 

Cauley and Berry expressed interest in the reinstatement of the MSC as an early polling location in 2023 rather than reinstating it for November 2022. Cauley made a motion to take no action on the item of reinstatement for 2022, which was seconded by Berry. The court voted unanimously to take no action. 

 Berry confirmed in an interview with The Battalion the issue would not return to the agenda before November. 

“I think it’s off the agenda for this election cycle,” Berry said.  

Oct. 11 — Court partially funds transportation

Peters, Berry and Cauley voted in favor of the measure which will provide transportation from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4. Aldrich and Ford were not present at the meeting due to an ongoing dispute over a tax rate decision which could only be passed with four members present.  

Business senior Ishika Shah spoke to the commissioners court before the vote and said, while she appreciated the court’s reimbursement, she and the students of A&M would benefit from more early voting transportation funding to accommodate class schedules. 

“From my understanding, the county is currently planning to fund 36 hours in early voting transportation,” Shah said. “We calculated that we would require buses for a longer period of time … The shuttle buses are not only for the voters that do not have vehicles, but also in the best interest of city traffic.” 

Shah recommended the court provide $15,303.50 in funds so the buses can operate for an estimated 115 hours instead of just 36. 

No amendment to the $5,000 reimbursement was made and the agenda item passed with a unanimous vote by the present members of the court. 

Oct. 24 to Nov. 4 —  Total funding achieved 

With the help of several groups from around the state, Aggie Spirit buses will transport students from campus to city hall throughout the duration of early voting. According to Texas A&M Today, the buses are expected to make three rounds per hour  — roughly every 20 minutes — between city hall and a stop on Lubbock Street in front of the Corps of Cadets Quad, near The Commons residence halls. The buses are funded in part by Mothers Against Greg Abbott State PAC, or MAGA. 

MAGA founder Nancy Thompson said it was clear to the organizers action needed to be taken after the MSC was removed as an early voting location.

“We didn’t know first who to talk to and where to go and all of those things, so we had to do a little bit of research, as an organization, to figure out what all the rules are around taking students to the polls,” Thompson said. “One of the first things we did was that we reached out to the Texas Democratic Party and we talked to their lawyers to see what we were able to do legally with the new voting laws.” 

The complete list of donors includes Voters of Tomorrow, A&M Transportation, an A&M professor and the A&M chapter MOVE. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *