Texas County Sued For Limited Early Voting Near Historically Black College

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: People wait in line to vote at a polling place on the first day of early voting on October 22, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke is running against Sen. ... HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: People wait in line to vote at a polling place on the first day of early voting on October 22, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke is running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the midterm elections. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images) MORE LESS

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of students at the historically black college Prairie View A&M University, filed a lawsuit Monday against the Texas county where the college is located. The lawsuit challenges Waller County’s early voting plan, which the complaint says provides a relatively limited opportunity for early voting near the campus, particularly when compared to the white areas of the county.

Of the two weeks of early voting in Texas, there are only five days — none of them weekend days — that an early polling place is open in Prairie View, on or near the campus. Two of those days, the polling place is at a community center that is “off-campus and is not well-known to or frequently used by PVAMU voters, particularly because most students receive their mail on campus,” according to the complaint.

There are also no evening hours for early voting near the campus, nor is there an open polling place in Prairie View during the first week of early voting.

Comparatively, the majority-white City of Waller — which, according to the lawsuit, has half the population of eligible voters that Prairie View has— will offer early voting both weeks, including on Saturdays and during some evenings, and has two voting sites. Another majority white city in the same county as Prairie View is also offering early voting during the first week, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit goes on to recount a county commission meeting where the commissioners were questioned about the early voting plan, and the reasons they gave for limiting early voting in Prairie View.

The lawsuit also points out that the campus offers parking to non-students for early voting.

“With respect to homecoming, on information and belief, most of its activities do not begin until the end of the first week of early voting and reasonably it would be advantageous to conduct early voting while so many students, local alumni, and other residents of Prairie View would already be on-campus,” the complaint said.

Read the full lawsuit below:

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