Travis County reached a voter registration milestone ahead of this year’s presidential election. Local election officials set a goal after the 2012 election to have 90 percent of the county registered. As of yesterday, officials met that goal.
“Ninety percent of Travis County eligible citizens are registered to vote for the first time in recent history – maybe ever,” said Bruce Elfant, Travis County’s voter registrar.
He says his office has stacks and stacks of voter registration cards.
“You should see the pictures of the piles of cards over here,” he said.
Because this is a presidential election year, more people are actually interested in voting this year. So, it’s not entirely surprising that the number of people who are registered has spiked. But as Cinde Weatherby with the local chapter of the non-partisan League of Women Voters points out, not all Texas counties register this many voters.
“In looking at experiences around the state, I have to say that it’s really personally-driven,” she explained. “Travis County has a fabulous person in charge of that effort and he has chosen some really dedicated hard working people to be on that staff.”
Weatherby says political will and priorities play a big role in how many people get registered in a county. That’s because a lot of this stuff is left up to the actual registrar. While many counties will stop registering voters in person at the close of business today, Elfant will be keeping his office open until midnight.
Weatherby says that’s one of the best explanations for why Travis County has so many registered voters. But, she said, there’s still more to do.
“It is something to really truly celebrate, that we have this many people registered. But, do suggest to your friends, your family, remind yourself, you need to go to vote,” she said.
And, if you are among that small percentage of folks who aren’t registered, today is the last day get it done.
Elfant says both Thundercloud Subs and Alamo Drafthouse are holding registration drives until 10 p.m.
And, if you are like a lot of Austinites and have moved recently, you should update your address or re-register.
Both Weatherby and Elfant point out all of this would be easier – and maybe even more people would be registered in town – if there was online voter registration.
But Texas needs a new law to do that, and, so far, lawmakers haven't been interested in passing one.