Rescheduled primaries to affect student voter turnout

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If the Texas primaries are rescheduled because new district maps are not agreed upon in time, students who leave town after the semester’s end may be unable to vote.

The primaries are at risk of being rescheduled for a second time this year from April 3 to a later date because on Jan. 20, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a set of interim maps drawn by three San Antonio judges, said Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. If authorities can’t agree upon new maps by Feb. 1, there will not be enough time for the federal preclearance required by the U.S. Supreme Court to hold the Texas primaries as scheduled, according to a statement from the Texas attorney general’s office.

The Supreme Court rejected the new maps because it ruled that the San Antonio judges have not given proper consideration to last year’s district maps, Garcia said.

As soon as the maps were rejected and the San Antonio judges scheduled a meeting to discuss redesign on Feb. 3, two days after the deadline, the attorney general’s office filed a motion to reconsider, said Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General Deputy. The motion urged the San Antonio court to resolve this matter in time to have the Texas primaries as scheduled, she said.

Garcia said the San Antonio judges are working hard to draw acceptable maps before the deadline.

“We need time to make the map right for the primaries,” Garcia said. “Being right is more important than being rushed.”

As the struggle for official district map approval continues, student political groups are finding it hard to motivate student voters when the details of the election date are uncertain, University Democrats President Huey Fischer said.

“As president of an organization whose primary mission is to get students to the polls, this entire ordeal has been a nightmare,” Fischer said. “If the primaries get moved to May or June, which they almost certainly will be, students simply will not vote because they are registered in Travis County but will have returned to their homes for the summer.”

University Democrats spokesman Andre Treiber said he is concerned about the possible late election date because he will not have the chance to inform many otherwise uninterested young voters during the summer.

“I am frustrated I will not be able to simply stand outside the [Flawn Academic Center] and tell people to quickly run inside and vote,” Treiber said. “I’ll have to look in vain as student turnout plummets.”

Printed on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 as: Rescheduled primaries would effect student voter turnout, new maps drawn