BRYAN, Texas — During Tuesday's regular meeting, Brazos County commissioners Irma Cauley, Nancy Berry and Judge Duane Peters voted unanimously today to pledge up to $5,000 towards the rental of a Texas A&M bus that would transport students from campus to College Station city hall for early voting.
But, Aggie students with MOVE Texas say $5,000 is nowhere near enough for what they need.
As the Memorial Student Center early voting location was removed by county commissioners this year, Aggie students have been working to arrange bus transportation to city hall during early voting days.
Commissioners pledged the $5,000 to be allocated from general funds towards a bus rental, in an Interlocal_Agreement with Texas A&M Transportation Services.
“That is what was agreed on between our council and Transportation Services," said Nancy Berry, Precinct 3 commissioner. "They felt that was an adequate amount to transport students from the MSC to College Station city hall.”
Students with MOVE Texas told KRHD that $5,000 would only rent a shuttle bus for a few hours each day for the two-week early voting period. They would rather $15,000 be given to pay for a shuttle service that lasts from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day.
“The maximum amount that would be appreciated would be 115 hours," said Aggie senior and MOVE Texas member Ishika Shah, who addressed the court. "That would be a good amount of service to accommodate the various class schedules of students.”
Texas A&M did not return our request for an interview by the deadline. Shah told KRHD that MOVE Texas and voting coalition members had met with Transportation Services, and the students are of the impression that the university will supply an additional $1,500 to what the county pays.
Still, these students are, on their own, fundraising through GoFundMe, hoping to raise additional dollars to pay for more shuttle hours, and for marketing to educate others about the bus availability.
“Now with them only offering [what would fund] 36 hours of service, that limits us to three days of figuring out - what days does everyone not have midterms, and what days can accommodate everyone’s schedule?" Shah said. "It’s really tough.”
County officials told KRHD they’re remaining at the $5,000 price tag, and don’t plan to raise their contributions at this time.
“I think we’re set," Judge Peters said. "I think that’s what we did this morning, was give A&M our position in interlocal. So I think they’ll take it, and I’m assuming they will pass it from their perspective and move forward.”
Though the funds from the county will help, students express that they feel discounted by their local government.
“It honestly seems very ingenuine," Shah said. "And if they actually cared not to disenfranchise students, they would do everything in their power to make sure students are actually able to get to the polls.”
Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 24, and lasts through Friday, Nov. 4.