Throughout this past year, we saw a lot of good and a lot of bad in our state’s elections.
To begin with the latter, this was the first election cycle in which anti-voter legislation that was rushed through the state house last year, over the strong opposition of voting rights and civil rights groups throughout the state, took effect. And those effects were deeply felt.
We saw college campuses try to shutter polling locations, we saw election officials leaving their jobs for fear of reprisal (both legal and extralegal), we saw mail ballot rejection rates skyrocket while the state barely lifted a finger, and we saw the psychological impact of all of this diffuse a sense of hopelessness throughout the electorate.
But despite these effects, and the very real barriers that were put in place, there is still much to celebrate from this past year as well.
While some people saw what was happening in our election system and chose to disengage, millions of people chose the opposite: they got more involved. This is particularly true among young people, who not only showed up on Election Day, but increased the depth – not just the volume – of their engagement.
At MOVE we set up organizing chapters on college campuses throughout the state to empower students as civic leaders in their communities. We registered thousands upon thousands of young people not only to vote, but to volunteer to get other people involved. We held rallies and town halls, educated and engaged young people from across Texas who deserve to have their voices heard in our electoral process.
We are incredibly proud of everything that these inspiring young Texans were able to accomplish over the past year. But we know that building a lasting foundation of youth voter engagement isn’t something we can only do during election years – it has to be a constant effort.
Moving forward, we are going to continue this work as we approach yet another Texas legislative session. And already we are seeing threats to Texans’ freedoms in the offing.
These measures are incredibly concerning given the harm that has already been done by the legislature in the past. It is shocking and disheartening to see that even after all that has happened, the administration still doesn’t seem to be finished stripping freedoms away from Texans.
Nonetheless we are prepared to meet this moment. Young people are the movement, the next generation of Texans is not content with complacency. We are steadfast in our commitment to fighting anti-voter measures that strip freedoms from Texans every step of the way.
This work takes time. We can’t make the change we need in our communities in one or even a few election cycles. But eventually we will get there, and it will be because of the tenacity and spirit of young people all across the state that we do.