In addition to sponsoring the campus voting, it gives its employees two hours off during every election to cast ballots.
It is not the only Texas college to set up campus voting. North of Austin, Southwestern University collected ballots from more than half of its 1,500 students last November in a one-day visit by a mobile polling place. Tarrant County, whose largest city is Fort Worth, racked up 11,000 votes at mobile campus sites; Cameron County, in southern Texas, opened three campus sites and reaped nearly 2,800 votes.
Dollar for dollar, mobile voting sites were “the most effective program we had,” Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County clerk and chief elections official, said.
State legislators took a dimmer view. Last spring, State Representative Greg Bonnen, a Republican from suburban Houston, filed legislation to require that all polling places remain open during the whole early-voting period, eliminating pop-up polls. He argued that local politicians were using the sites to attract supportive voters for pet projects like school bond issues.
The Texas Association of Election Administrators opposed the change, and Democratic legislators proposed to exclude college campuses, nursing homes and other sites from the requirement. But Republicans rejected the changes and passed the bill on largely party-line votes.
There are efforts to push back at the restrictions on student voting. The elections administrator in Dallas County, Toni Pippins-Poole, decided after the Legislature outlawed temporary polls to spend the money needed to make pop-up voting sites on eight college campuses permanent.
In New Hampshire, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing to undo the State Legislature’s domicile law. The League of Women Voters and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a Mahwah, N.J., nonprofit group focused on protecting voting rights for young people, are contesting Florida’s parking requirements for polls in federal court.