Texas Civil Rights Project Urges Galveston to Increase Polling Locations

Outlined here are Galveston's six districts.
Outlined here are Galveston's six districts. Map by City of Galveston's City Secretary's Office

This week the Texas Civil Rights Project sent a letter to the Galveston County clerk’s office, requesting an increase in the number of polling locations open in the county.

There are only 28 polling locations in operation, which stands below the legal requirement of having 41 polling locations. According to Sarah Chen, an attorney and legal fellow with the Civil Rights Project, if Galveston wants to comply with the 50 percent rule of having one polling location for every two precincts, they will need to find the resources to increase the number of polling locations even higher than the legal requirement to 49 active sites.

Galveston has had issues in providing an adequate number of polling locations in the past. In the 2019 midterm election, it was reported that the county had an insufficient amount of open polling sites.

“This isn’t the first time for Galveston, we’ve sent a similar letter following an election in 2019,” Chen said. “We are hopeful that we can have a dialogue with the county or take further action to help the county get into compliance to abide by the law.”

The Texas Civil Rights Project has also gotten involved with Galveston’s efforts in redistricting, after filing a lawsuit in 2021, against the county’s Commissioners Court. This lawsuit alleged intentional discrimination toward minority populations in the redistricting maps, which split the only majority-minority precinct. The lawsuit is pending and set for a hearing this summer.

During the evaluation of present polling locations in early voting, the Civil Rights Commission did a geographic analysis of where the present polls are located. They found that there are more polling places in parts of the county that have lower Black and Hispanic voter populations. With fewer polling places in areas with higher minority populations, voting is not as accessible to these groups, Chen said. “This is something that comports with trends in voter suppression disproportionately harming minorities in Galveston, across Texas and the country,” Chen said.

“Even though we're just a week out from election day, we are hopeful the county will consider reallocating resources or figure out what polling places used in the past could be opened as polling places on Election Day, so it is easier for voters to vote,” said Chen.

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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.