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Waller County to Fight Voter Suppression Lawsuit

In response to the lawsuit — filed on behalf of five Prairie View A&M students — the rural county will expand early voting hours but “vigorously oppose” the allegations.

Waller County officials plan to fight a lawsuit filed against them on behalf of five students at Prairie View A&M who allege the county is suppressing their voter rights.

The suit says the county is violating the students’ rights by not setting up a voting site on the historically black campus or in the City of Prairie View during the first week of early voting.

The county’s commissioners court held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the lawsuit. After hours in executive session, Waller County Judge Carbett “Trey” J. Duhon III read a statement from the county.

“Waller County and the Waller County Elections Office have complied with the law, and have been open and transparent in setting their early voting locations and times throughout the county,” the statement read. “It was a surprise when, after early voting had already started, the county received notice of the federal lawsuit.”

The county said the court has a “record of actively engaging with the Prairie View A&M community,” and that they will “vigorously oppose” the allegations against them.

Extended Voting Hours

The county also said that, in light of the lawsuit, it will extend opportunities for early voting on campus. Students will now be able to vote on campus Monday through Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., as opposed to the previous hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, there will now be Sunday afternoon voting at Prairie View City Hall.

Dr. Billy Monroe, associate professor of political science at Prairie View and the university’s pre-law adviser, said the extended voting hours will most likely not be enough to please the concerned students. “I’d be highly surprised if the students do not continue to fight for being able to vote on campus,” he said.

In a statement released on Thursday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund  which is filing the lawsuit — said the extended voting hours are “an improvement over the original plan, but still not equal to what other Waller County residents were offered.”

The voter suppression lawsuit was filed after earlier complaints by students who were told their addresses were wrong on voter registration forms.

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