[Image courtesy of PVAMU]
Yesterday’s New York Times had a story about Prairie View A&M, the “nation’s oldest historically black public college”, reaching an agreement with Waller County, Texas to put a polling place on campus after years of debate.
Town-gown struggles are nothing new in election administration, and so a development like this is newsworthy in and of itself – but in this case it was even more remarkable because of the key role played by Houston-based True the Vote, an organization that came to prominence for its anti-fraud efforts in the 2012 election.
According to the Times, True the Vote got involved at the behest of some Republican Prairie View alumni and opened a dialogue with the Waller County clerk about how to resolve the continuing controversy, which they noted could “be needlessly politicized and risk creating a negative impression of a state now able to operate in a post-preclearance [under the Voting Rights Act] environment.”
Ultimately, True the Vote submitted a proposal to Waller County that used incredibly detailed analyses of demographics, building layout and other factors to suggest that early voting remain at a local community center but that Election Day voting be housed at a student center on the Prairie View campus. [It’s a fascinating document and well worth the look.]
This is an amazing example of a community effort to reach consensus on a difficult issue of access, and everyone concerned deserves praise for their work in helping make it happen – especially given the highly-charged environment in Texas and the high profile of True the Vote and its work.
Still, kudos to all involved for their effort to make voting work for Prairie View. They may end up on opposite sides of future election debates (and soon, as federal efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act proceed), but this is one area where it’s encouraging to see people come together to focus on the voter.