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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

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Students speak out against MSC early voting location change

Photo by Meredith Seaver
Vote Here Sign

As students returned to campus this semester, many were dismayed to discover the Memorial Student Center, or MSC, was not included as an early voting location for the upcoming November midterm elections.

On July 5, the majority of Texas A&M’s student population was away when the Brazos County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 for the approval of early voting locations which, for the first time in several years, did not include the MSC. Instead, the new College Station City Hall took its place. In response to this decision, 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. 

“This decision will be disenfranchising hundreds of faculty, staff and, of course, students and their ability to vote early and easily,” Samuel said. “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, who is also the president and founder of the A&M chapter of Mobilize. Organize. Vote. Empower., or MOVE, said the first time she ever voted was as a freshman at A&M, and even with early voting the lines were still long. 

“I thought I had allocated plenty of time — three hours,” Samuel said. “Little did I know that that line would warp around the building several times. … I barely made it in time to vote and go to class.”

Samuel said due to the time commitment of standing in line, she was the only one of her friends who was able to vote.

“Keep in mind this was a presidential election year,” Samuel said. “Can you imagine how much longer students have to wait now? To remove the MSC as an early voting location will make it harder to vote and will result in lower voter turnout. … Invest in your democracy, reinstate the MSC as an early voting location in November 2022.”

Social Media Director of Texas Aggie Democrats Dianne Word said before the meeting, a coalition of concerned students had organized and signed up to speak to the court. 

“[Aggie Democrats] joined a coalition that is actively working to try and reverse the decision and get the MSC moved back to an early voting location,” Word 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.” 

Even though the new early voting location of city hall is across the street from campus, the amount of time needed to walk from the MSC to the city hall and back across Texas Avenue would be unmanageable for many students with busy schedules, and Word said A&M Transportation Services should offer to help transport students. 

“That’s the whole reason why this is such a big deal and why voting at the MSC is such a necessity for students,” Word said. “Because a lot of us can’t afford to pay for gas right now. We can’t afford [the time] to walk, we don’t have cars.” 

Debbie Lollar, the executive director of Transportation Services, said in an email to The Battalion that as of August they did not have a plan to offer any new or changed bus routes to facilitate student travel to and from the city hall during early voting. 

“Early voting at College Station City Hall includes a free parking option similar to what was offered when early voting was in the [MSC],” the email read. “Students and employees who do not want to drive to city hall might consider riding bus Route 12 [Reveille], riding a Veo pedal or e-bike or walking.”

While bus Route 12 does pass nearby the new city hall, it does not have any official stops at the location along its route, according to the Transportation Services website. Lollar also added that organizations can sponsor a bus to charter students to and from the polling place. 

Organizations wanting to sponsor such a charter however will have to pay per hour, per bus, the Transportation Services Communications Manager Tad Fifer said in a follow up email.

“The cost associated with sponsoring a charter bus for early voting would be $127 per hour with a required two hour minimum,” Fifer said. 

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