From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 5, 2004
Contact: Kenneth Besserman, (512) 463-0113

Statement from Senator Rodney Ellis Regarding Waller County

"Today, an important step has been taken to secure the voting rights of students in Waller County and all across the State of Texas. Although the Texas Attorney General and the Secretary of State have issued legal opinions that affirm the right of students to vote in the county where they attend college, the continued actions and statements by the District Attorney in Waller County have necessitated this step.

January 15 marked the 25th anniversary of the decision in the landmark student voting rights case, Symm vs. United States. In that case, the United States Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the three-judge district court that Prairie View A&M students who live in Waller County during the school year have the same presumption of residency for voting purposes as any other person who lives in Waller County. Since that decision, students all over the country have registered to vote on their campuses and taken part in the local electoral process.

The District Attorney, Oliver Kitzman, has decided to reinterpret the voter registration and residency laws in the state of Texas to deny students the right to register to vote in Waller County. By refusing to allow students at Prairie View A&M to register to vote, Mr. Kitzman is injecting his misunderstanding and misreading of the law into the electoral process. Mr. Kitzman is both in violation of the Supreme Court and the United States Constitution by refusing to allow students to register to vote in Waller County.

I hope that the legal steps initiated today will stop the voter suppression and intimidation that has occurred in Waller County."