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Complications alter voting timelines

TJC students who have registered to vote in Smith County may have to re-register because of redistricting complications in Texas.

“There are all kinds of nitty gritty decisions that have to be made before you put an election together,” said Linda Krefting, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Texas.

The original election date was set for March 5 and was then changed to April 3. Now the date has yet again been moved to May 29, tentatively. According to Krefting, the legislature passed redistricting maps, including Texas, to establish fairness before elections could commence.

“Texas is one of the states because of a history of discrimination against minorities that needs to obtain clearance for all kinds of changes in elections,” said Krefting.

The Washington D.C. court must rule on pre-clearance of the maps, and so far, the maps have not been satisfactory. As of now, the San Antonio court, which has dealt with the redistricting, made interim maps that will be in effect for only this year.

From there, each county elections administrator must go through the county block-by-block to assert that each voter is in all of the right districts.

In late February, Tyler Junior College Student Senate hosted a voter registration drive in Rogers Student Center, which encouraged students to take part in the presidential primary election as well as others in the area.

The primary election has since been changed to date that is after the end of the spring semester at TJC, and most out-of-town students will head home for the summer. However, many students, thinking the election would be during the semester, registered for Smith County instead of their hometown.

Krefting reassured students that if they are registered and wish to vote in Smith County while away in the summer, they must do a ballot by mail, which can be found on one of the websites below.

If the student chooses to change his or her registration back to their home address, he or she must also re-register online, also found below.

McKenzie Watkins, a freshman student from the Dallas area, registered to vote in Smith County and plans to keep her form the same.

“I didn’t really even think about that [registering in a different county],” she said. “I realize it probably couldn’t have been helped, but I’ll be spending more time here in Tyler this summer than I will back home. I guess, in my case, it sort of worked out.”

Dee Brock of the Tyler chapter of the League of Women Voters said she was pleased with the turnout for the voter registration drive but said that re-registering or voting by other means is not a problem. Because of the large turnout from students, she hopes that TJC will continue this event in the future along side the League of Women Voters.

Krefting has faith that the process will certainly follow through but expressed frustration that is shared by other election committees and voters alike.

“We’re all better off if we get to the bloody election already,” she said.

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