In solidarity

Civic engagement of Texas college students obstructed: We must rock the vote in 2020!

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington

Originally Published in San Francisco Bay View

Damon Johnson, a sophomore at Prairie View A&M University in rural Texas, voted on campus in the November 2018 mid-term election. This photo is posted at the top of a New York Times story headlined “‘They Don’t Really Want Us to Vote’: How Republicans Made It Harder.” The Times acknowledges that Prairie View A&M, a historically Black university, has long been a stronghold for students fighting for the right to vote. – Photo: Todd Spoth, New York Times

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives are attempting to sabotage and obstruct the voting rights of college students in Texas.

Once again, I must shine a strobe light on another surreptitious scheme by alt-right operatives in Texas who seek to aid “their man” in the White House. We see y’all!

Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed David Whitley as secretary of state. Whitley conspired with Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and created a bogus list of approximately 95,000 Texans Whitley claimed were non-citizens and should be purged from the voter rolls.

Thankfully, Democratic Texas Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, as well as the Texas Civil Rights Project were paying close attention. After an in-depth investigation as well as a rebuke from a federal judge, David Whitley was removed and rightfully so. Whitley targeted Latinx and Hispanic populations with his attempted voting roll purge. The purpose of Whitley’s actions seems to be motivated by the large Democrat turnout in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Now in 2020, Texas State Rep. Greg Bonnen has crafted House Bill 1888. House Bill 1888 prohibits the use of temporary voting stations in Texas. The eradication of these temporary voting sites hits college students in Texas exceptionally hard.

You would think that politicians like Bonnen would be supportive of the civic engagement of college age people, but the growing interest of 18-30-year-olds in the voting and legislative process has scared the Republicans in Texas. Scared them to the point of creating laws such as HB 1888 that block access to the voting box!

Bonnen will most likely feign innocence when questioned about his motives in crafting this House bill. However, David Whitley and Greg Abbott did the same exact thing last year when I exposed them.

In order to combat these schemes by Bonnen and his cronies in the Texas House, college students at institutions such as the University of Texas at Austin, Prairie View A&M, Texas Tech, Texas Southern University, and the Aggies at Texas A&M must fight back.

Even if you are not a progressive, liberal, or democratic socialist, you should still fight for your right to access the ballot box in Texas.

Does it not seem strange to you that a federal prisoner like myself is sounding the alarm? Why aren’t more mainstream journalists in Texas speaking up?

I want more college students in Texas and all over the United States to start thinking about the power and significance of your vote. For instance, what if you are a freshman or sophomore in Texas who has earned an academic scholarship. Your GPA is excellent, everything is going great, you’re poised for success and then you become pregnant.

The state of Texas has made it notoriously difficult to access a physician who can carry out a safe abortion. Wouldn’t you like to change that? If you don’t vote, you can’t change that!

There are numerous arguments that I can make. My intent is to force or rather encourage you to think. The “powers that be” in Texas thought they got rid of me by burying me in a federal prison in Louisiana, but I’m still serving the people and I won’t shut up!

Get out and vote! Dump Trump in 2020! Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win, All Power to the People!

Keith “Malik” Washington is assistant editor of the Bay View, studying and preparing to serve as editor after his release in 2021. He is also co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. Visit his website at ComradeMalik.com. Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 34481-037, USP Pollock, P.O. Box 2099, Pollock LA 71467.

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