Does your child’s high school offer students the opportunity of and assistance with voter registration? They should. It's the law.
Twice each academic year, once per semester, Texas high school principals must offer students 18 years of age or turning 18 that school year, the chance to register to vote.
The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), founded in 1990, is a nonprofit organization and a group of "Texas lawyers for Texas communities, boldly serving the movement for equality and justice in and out of the courts.". According to TCRP, a significant numbers of school administrators are unaware of their duties to help high school students with voter registration or do not understand the exact requirements of this state law. TCRP provides a How To Guide for principals and community leaders that can help increase awareness of the law and compliance across the state.
“The right to vote is a cornerstone of our democracy and we owe it to our students to help them become active participants in their communities through voting as early in life as possible. Registering students to vote on their high school campuses is a giant step in the right direction.”
How can Texas high schools help high school students register to vote?
These are the duties of Texas high school principals:
- Appoint one high school deputy registrar (HSDR). This can be the principal himself/herself, or an administrative staff person or teacher employed at the school to act in lieu of the principal.
- School principals should receive blank voter registration forms in the mail from the Secretary of State’s office. If they don't, they have to contact the Secretary of State and request the registration forms.
- HSDRs must distribute voter registration (“VR”) forms at least twice each academic year to all students who are 18 or who will soon turn 18.
- HSDR must review VR forms for completeness. If the HSDR notices the VR form is incomplete or does not include the required signature, the HSDR should find the applicant.
- If a student or employee returns a completed VR form to a HSDR, it is the responsibility of the HSDR to deliver the completed form to the county voter registrar, either by hand delivering it in person or by mailing it in an envelope or package, within 5 days and no later than 5 p.m. of the 29th day before an election day.
The full How-to-Guide is available on the The Texas Civil Rights Project's website.
Can anybody else help students in Texas register to vote?
Yes. There are two ways to get involved.
Become a Texas Volunteer Deputy Registrar
Teachers, members of the PTA, grassroots groups, student organizations, and others can organize voter registration drives after they are deputized as a Volunteer Deputy Registrar (VDR) in a particular county.
Eligible Volunteer Deputy Registrars:
- Must be over 18 years of age
- Must not have been convicted of certain crimes involving fraudulent use or possession of identifying information or has a felony conviction which has not been finally discharged
- Must complete a training course and may be required to take an examination.
- Can only register would-be voters who are residents of the county in which the VDR is deputized.
- Must deliver completed forms to the county voter registrar, either by hand delivering it in person or by mailing it in an envelope or package, within 5 days and no later than 5 p.m. of the 29th day before an election day.
If you'd like to become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar and organize a voter registration drive, contact your county Voter Registrar’s office.
Pass out blank mail-in Texas voter registration forms
Everyone can pass out blank forms, answer questions about voter registration and voting and encourage students to make their voices heard at the polls. You do not need to be an HSDR or VDR.
Application forms can be obtained from the county Voter Registrar’s office or picked up at libraries, government offices, or high schools.
If you are not an HDSR or a VDR, you must not handle a completed VR form for someone else.
Once a voter completes a VR form, he or she can hand it to an HSDR or VDR from that county, or mail it directly to their county Voter Registrar’s office.
Credit Theresa Thompson Flickr Creative Commons
How can I register to vote in Texas if I’m not a high school student?
HSDRs may only register students and school employees, not members of the general public.
VDRs can only register residents of the county in which the VDR is deputized.
If neither one of the above is available to you, you can:
For more information about Texas voter registration or on how to vote in Texas,visit VoteTexas.gov.
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