The Texas Civil Rights Project recently released its 2018 study of statewide high school voter registration, it found only 34% of schools help students register.
That means 66% violate the law, Including many here in the Coastal Bend.
But those numbers are misleading.
Several schools the study lists as non compliant have “No Information Available” in regards to requests to the Secretary of State’s office for registration materials; that includes Tuloso-Midway High School.
School officials say they don’t have to request forms because the Secretary of State sends them. Forms staff are only too happy to hand out.
At Tuloso-Midway High School, eligible students get two opportunities to register. One in the fall before Election Day, and another in the spring.
“This is a very under-represented group in voting,” said Yvonne Chavera, a TMHS teacher who ran voter registration drives in two of the last three years.
According to Chavera, before the 2016 election 38% of eligible students registered. She says that’s because kids today are more informed.
“They watch the news more, they know what’s going on, they ask more questions,” said Chavera. “I’m hoping that means we’ll see more young people voting.”
Some students can’t wait to vote.
“When you turn 18, you vote,” said TMHS junior Celeste Garza. “That’s just something you do.”
Garza turns 18 in January, she says her parents taught her the importance of voting at a young age.
“I’ve always been interested in politics,” said Garza. “I think that’s because I’m a big history buff.”
Garza believes the effort gets more students involved in the political process.
“I’m pretty sure that if they didn’t a lot of people wouldn’t vote because they wouldn’t know,” said Garza.
Chavera believes getting kids involved early means a more informed electorate later.
“The more of a role they play, the more of a role they’ll play as adults,” said Chavera.”
Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands is often at high schools recruiting kids for her office’s Student Election Clerk program. Sands says in her opinion, every high school in the county does a good job getting kids registered to vote.