A field director for Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel was arrested at the Waller County Courthouse Wednesday after he delivered a letter demanding the county update the status of students at a nearby college whose registrations were thrown into question the day before.
Jacob Aronowitz, Siegel’s field director, was released after about two hours, according to Lisa Seger, the Democratic nominee for Texas House District 3, who arrived at the courthouse after the arrest.
Confusion arose Tuesday on the nearby campus of Prairie View A&M University when it was discovered that thousands of students could have registered under the wrong address, putting their voter registrations in jeopardy.
Tuesday was the last day to register for the November elections.
The mixup stems partly from how students get their mail: Because the university does not have individual mailboxes for students on campus, it provides a single post office box for every student.
In 2016, a group of university officials, the county and the local political parties agreed to have students write down 700 or 100 University Drive as their residence when registering to vote.
One of the addresses is for the university, the other for the campus bookstore.
In the March primary election, however, Eason noticed the 700 University Drive address puts students in the City Hall precinct, not the one on campus. The officials decided to let students vote at the wrong polling place — the one on campus — but required them to fill out a change in address form.
The letter was signed by Siegel, Seger, Mattox and Waller County Democratic Party Chair Rosa Harris.
“We hereby demand that Waller County update its registrations of any student currently registered at 100 or 700 University to reflect that they are part of precinct 309,” the letter reads. “And further, we demand that Waller County require no further documentation of affected students.”
The letter goes on to say that the signees believe the action is “appropriate” because the county “advised students to use 100 or 700 University as their ‘Residence Address’ despite knowing that those students actually resided on campus, in precinct 309.”
“It was the actions of the County which led to students being registered in the wrong precinct,” the letter says. “Therefore, the County should take immediate steps to correct the effort resulting from its action…”
Waller County is 70.5 percent white, according to Census data, while 82 percent of Prairie View A&M’s student body is black, university data from spring 2018 show. The county voted 63 to 34 percent for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.