September 03, 2004
More voting controversy in Prairie View

Another controversy in Prairie View as the Waller County Commissioners voted along racial and partisan lines to reject a second voting location on the PVAM campus.

The 3-to-2 vote surprised minority leaders who thought county Judge Owen Ralston, a white Republican, would be willing to join with the court's two Democrats, both black, to approve the voting location on the mostly minority campus.

The Commissioners Court recently approved the use of the county's community center at the south edge of the campus to serve as the lone polling place for both the university and the small, mostly black town that adjoins it.

Proponents of the central campus site said the community building, five minutes by foot from the center of campus, is inconvenient and intimidating to student voters.

However, Ralston countered that the Memorial Student Center, proposed by minority and student leaders for the second voting site, is too noisy and crowded to meet legal security requirements for voting.

"There's not a place in that building that meets the election code," he said. "We need to find a better place if there's to be voting on the campus."

Ralston then voted with Republicans Frank Pokluda, Precinct 2 commissioner, and Louis Canales, Precinct 4 commissioner, to kill the central campus polling site. Both commissioners are white.

Supporting the site were Precinct 1 Commissioner Leroy Singleton and Precinct 3 Commissioner Milton Whiting.

Prairie View Mayor Frank Jackson, who urged commissioners to approve the second polling place in "the spirit of democracy," called the surprise outcome "a double-cross." He said the university administration had agreed to take steps to close off part of the student center to ensure voters' privacy.

"We came here thinking this had all been worked out," he said. "Then they come up with this."

State Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston, called the court's decision "pure racist" and vowed to complain to the Texas secretary of state and the U.S. Justice Department.

The Justice Department has overseen Waller County elections for years, and the department launched a civil rights investigation related to student-voting issues last year.

You'd think that after all the crap that's gone on in Prairie View, both in the last year and before, there might be some willingness to compromise and accomodate. Apparently not. What a shame.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 03, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Since I know you're a fan of catchy PR campaigns for municipalities, I'm pleased pitch this one to you pro-bono:

"Hempstead, TX: It's the new Vidor!"

Posted by: sarah on September 3, 2004 12:17 PM

Is a five-minute walk from the center of campus unreasonable?

I would have to walk about 20 minutes to get to my polling place in Houston.

Posted by: kevin whited on September 3, 2004 1:48 PM

Yeah, but do you walk it or drive it? Recall that many students don't have vehicles.

I think the real point here is that there's no legit reason to block the creation of another polling place. Voting on-campus is standard procedure all over the state. At UT, for example, students are able to vote in various locations on campus including the Undergraduate Library and even right in their dormatories. There's no reason Prarie View students shouldn't be afforded the same accomodations.

Posted by: sarah on September 3, 2004 2:31 PM

If the designated site is 5 minutes away in a mostly black area, how in the world can that be "intimidating" to student voters.....? What a crock of crap. Vote and stop your whining.

Posted by: Cory on October 21, 2004 3:50 AM

It is a sad day in america when the Republicans will exert their power to discourage voting just because they may not agree with the policies that you agree with. But it goes to show how the Republican Party the GOP(Great Oppression Party) does what it has done in the past, example NIXON.

And that is just one example. The only reason BUSH won this election is because of all of the local shannagins and tricks they have used in the past like the Redrawing of the Districts in TX to favor themselves. After one approved by the courts had been in place. They will do anything to win even if it means cheating at every county level in the United States of America, and it was all a plan by Karl Rove, and Tom Delay.

I just hope that the Republicans will be happy when this country is run into the ground by their party who they helped get into office.

Posted by: Roger on November 6, 2004 3:57 PM