In fall 2018, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Norton Rose Fulbright filed a lawsuit against Waller County on behalf of Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) student voters, alleging that the county discriminated against them by adopting and maintaining an early voting schedule for the November 2018 election that limited their access to early voting. Since 2018, Waller has refused to provide on-campus early voting at PVAMU.
Founded in 1876, PVAMU is a historically Black university with over 8,000 students. Waller County has targeted PVAMU for decades by enacting restrictive and unconstitutional voting measures, dating back to when Americans 18 years and older won the right to vote in 1971. Since then, the school’s predominantly Black student population has been a political force in the majority-white Waller County.
Before 1971, Waller County had almost no Black voters. But with the ratification of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment in 1971, which gave the vote to all Americans eighteen years or older, the mostly Black student population at Prairie View A&M became and remains a significant political force in Waller County. Almost immediately, county officials began deploying various unconstitutional and illegal tactics to limit students’ voting rights, including restrictive registration requirements, arbitrary voter challenges, and, just in the last few years, baseless changes in Black students’ access to early voting and polling locations.
Read the 2018 lawsuit here
On July 16 2020, the Southern District Court of Texas ruled that Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) students and a PVAMU student-organization will have their day in court to demonstrate why Waller County’s November 2018 early voting schedule violated the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, September 28, 2020.
In response to the court’s decision granting the case be heard, LDF Deputy Director of Litigation Leah Aden released the following statement:
“For decades, Prairie View A&M student voters have been combating the voter suppression tactics used by Waller County, most recently through Waller’s attempt to limit PVAMU students’ access to early voting. Despite Prairie View A&M students being some of the highest users of early voting in the county, making up one-third of the county’s registered voting population, and lacking access to modes of transportation, Waller County continues to limit their access to early voting. This court decision guarantees that the brilliant and courageous PVAMU students that LDF proudly represents can fully present their case in court this September.”
Read the court’s decision here.