BRYAN, Texas — On Tues, Sept. 27, several Texas A&M students, voting advocates and organizations called out Brazos County Commissioners after months of requests to reinstate the Memorial Student Center as an early voting location at Texas A&M university, claiming the lack of action and decision from the commissioners was voter suppression.
At age 18, being able to vote is described as a rite of passage for an American Citizen. It's a right that allows everyone's voices to be heard. Yet, students felt their requests to be heard by commissioners fell on deaf ears.
Former educator and voting advocate Judy LeUnes stated "This is definitely voter suppression. None of us were allowed to speak."
Student representatives of Move Texas, a student-based organization whose goal is to increase voter turnout, claimed that the move was a clear indicator of young voter suppression.
In addition, they have been trying to get the MSC reinstated as an early voting location since August after discussions began in early July. Angered and disappointed at the final result, students voiced their feelings about the decision.
"So that's extremely frustrating because we've been coming here since the end of August to try and get this decision reversed and now we're told there's no more time," Move Texas Rep. and Texas A&M senior Kristina Samuel said.
Texas A&M senior Ishika Shah, who has been fighting against the removal since early July, explained how they got to this decision.
"First of all they made this decision on July 5th. We immediately mobilized and went to court to testify August 30th," said Shah.
At that point, county commissioners claimed it was too late to overturn the decision despite it legally being possible to make the change.
However, students stated the mistake had to do with commissioners putting the wrong election year. Shah and others, on the other hand, believed it was intentional.
Officials later admitted their mistake in removing it from the agenda in their meeting on Aug. 26.
Tues, Sept. 27 was the last meeting on the removal of MSC being an early polling location. Students and community members were told they can speak on the topic, but things didn’t turn out in their favor.
“They didn't even let us testify again, they made us come here another week knowing we're missing our classes week after week for this issue," said Shah. She also claimed that the actions were evidence of further suppression of votes from young voters, an underhanded tactic to discourage the young voter base from engaging at all.
“These freshmen that are at our campus, it's their first time voting and they're excited about it. But if it means they can't get to the polls, they're not going to get that chance," said Shah. "They have no consideration for us and it's very clear to us now that they're not going to do anything for this election season."
However, commissioner Nancy Berry didn’t hear it that way.
"I don't think this is voter suppression, they have other options, they have other places to vote, they can go vote at the MSC on election day," Berry stated.
County commissioners agreed that they will have time next year to reinstate the location.
Despite leaving unsatisfied, more Texas A&M students who attended the meeting said they will continue to bring attention to issues that affect young voters in hopes for a different outcome next year.