MOVE San Antonio unveiled the digital version of their new “voter guide” for the 2016 election. The guide is avaible at movesanantonio.org. Photo by Benjamin Shirani , The Paisano

MOVE San Antonio, a non-profit organization that encourages young voters to get politically engaged, will be registering voters on National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) at UTSA’s Main Campus and The Block on Sep. 27

Although NVRD focuses on registering voters for this year’s elections, MOVE San Antonio is part of a larger initiative to emphasize the importance of voting in all elections when many states have implemented voterID laws, which critics attribute to causes of voter disenfranchisement.

In August 2015, Texas courts overturned SB 14, a voter identification law that required voters to have a photo ID, arguing that the law is discriminatory. This verdict means that in November Texas voters can cast a ballot with permitted identification but are not required to posses a photo ID.

Despite this legal ruling, barriers against voting in the state are far from being torn down completely. Ari Berman, senior contributing writer for The Nation and journalist who covers voting rights, shadowed MOVE San Antonio last week as they canvassed university campuses and neighborhoods, dropped off voter registration cards to Bexar County Elections Department and prepared the release of their 2016 MOVE San Antonio Voter Guide.

MOVE Executive Director H. Drew Galloway and The Nation magazine’s Ari Berman

MOVE Executive Director H. Drew Galloway and The Nation magazine’s
Ari Berman

While at the Bexar County Elections Department with MOVE San Antonio, Berman noticed a poster displaying old information about the photo ID requirement hanging on the wall. “They actually had the correct information behind the desk about what was required, but they hadn’t put the (new) poster up,” he said.

Outdated information can lead to a scenario in which election officials are turning away eligible voters because they lack a photo ID.

In response to what voters should do if faced with challenges about their voting eligibility from poll workers, Berman suggests to be persistent. “Show up and vote with whatever ID you have. If they say you can’t vote, tell them you want to cast a provisional ballot. If they won’t give you a provisional ballot, don’t leave until you’ve asked for their supervisor,” he said.

Berman explained, “Sometimes poll workers are just uninformed with what the law is because it has changed multiple times and Texas has not been very straightforward with letting people know that.”

Berman suggested that Texas should have automatic voter registration, election day registration, along with online voter registration. “It’s insane in this day and age where we can do anything on our iPhone but can’t register to vote (online) in a state as big as Texas,” he said.

Regional conditions also play an important role in exercising the right to vote meaningfully. In San Antonio, language barriers can prevent that from happening.

According to Berman, ballots in Texas are made in English and Spanish, but deputization classes that allow people to gain the authority to register others to vote are only available in English.

For students the conditions surrounding voting are particular, too.

Many students attending college outside of their hometown are registered there and find it a hassle to cast a ballot.

MOVE San Antonio’s “Vote Bot” is one of the ways the group will register you to vote

MOVE San Antonio’s “Vote Bot” is one of the ways the group will register you to vote

Samantha Solis, sophomore environmental science major, now has a permanent address and can vote without encumbrance but recalled a time when this wasn’t the case.

“I faced some challenges in the past when voting due to being a student with temporary addresses,” Solis said. “I’ve had to travel at times back to Corpus Christi (from San Antonio) in order to vote where I was registered.”

Organizations like MOVE San Antonio attempt to curtail these barriers through daily activism.

“I think in a state that’s this diverse, it should be more accommodating,” Berman said. “It really shouldn’t be a political (motive) to get people to vote; that’s something everyone should agree on. I think it’s unfortunate that it’s become such a partisan issue.”

Solis spelled out the implications of what happens when the right to vote is politicized.

“Those that are putting these laws into place are probably not concerned with whether or not they are infringing on the rights of these minorities,” Solis said.

Mariana Lozano, sophomore biology major, explained the challenges she faced in attempting to vote in this year’s presidential primaries.

“Location (of where to vote) was one (challenge) for me personally. I was in the UTSA area that day and wouldn’t be able to get to Stone Oak where my address was registered,” Lozano said. “By the time I had gone through the long line and was told about the location rule, I wouldn’t have made it to (the polls) with the traffic. I suppose that’s where early voting comes in. A more pressing issue would be the long lines, they definitely discourage voter turnout.”

Although Lozano is registered to vote in Bexar county, these setbacks prevented her from voting.

“Texas has some of the strictest voter ID laws and lowest voter turnout (in the country) and I believe those two things are undoubtedly correlated with one another,” Lozano said.

H. Drew Galloway, director of MOVE San Antonio, works to mitigate these issues.

“We are really vocal with the fact that voting is very hard, especially here in Texas.”

Solis agrees that voting is unnecessarily difficult and disproportionately impacts specific groups of people.

“I think voter turnout is already very low amongst our poor and minority citizens. We shouldn’t be making it harder for an already marginalized group to have representation,” Solis said.

MOVE San Antonio tables regularly on many local area campuses, “class-raps” (short, in-class presentations advocating the importance of voting) and interns students in the San Antonio area.

The digital version of the 2016 San Antonio Voter Guide released on movesanantonio.org provides policy stances from politicians represented by the Republican, Democratic, Green and Libertarian tickets.

Although the Green and Libertarian parties are not receiving the same amount of attention as the Democratic and Republican parties, Galloway stressed that their inclusion is essential in this election.

“There’s people that care a lot about issues that aren’t necessarily being highlighted by both major parties,” Galloway said. “Millennials are much more issue driven than driven by the party.”

The print version of MOVE San Antonio’s 2016 Voter Guide will be released soon, and the digital version can be accessed online.

Related Stories

More from Gaige Davila News Editor

Gaige Davila News Editor

CLASE survey identifies most common sexual harassment, assault perpetrators on campus   The Faculty Senate subcommittee on Preventing Sexual Violence…

More In News

Josh Peck News Editor

UTSA announced the launch of its Bold Promise program on Thursday, Dec. 12. The Bold Promise initiative is a financial…