What Do You Mean I'm Not Registered To Vote?

Feb 1, 2018

KUT has been reminding Austinites about Monday’s primary election voter registration deadline for a few weeks. (One more time: IT’S MONDAY, FEB. 5.) If you’ve registered in the past and haven’t moved since then, you’re cool; no re-registration needed.

But if you have moved within the county, it’s a good idea to make sure your registration moved with you. So that’s what one of my co-workers did this morning, casually typing his information in on the Texas Secretary of State’s elections page. He just wanted to make sure everything was in good standing heading into the election.

After entering his name, driver license number and date of birth, he got a bit of a shock: His registration was in “suspense.”

Wait, what? What does that mean? Registration is usually considered a binary state: You’re either registered or you’re not. So what’s this middle ground?

According to the Travis County tax assessor-collector’s office, which is in charge of voter registration, it means my co-worker’s registration card was returned to the office undelivered. An undelivered card usually means someone has either moved or died, so his or her current registration is in question. Once that initial attempt to mail a registration card is returned, the clock to kick that person off the voter rolls starts ticking. If you have a suspended registration and don’t vote in the next two election cycles, you’re registration is eliminated.

Whether you call it a cleanup or even a purge, the practice removed more than 1 million people from voter rolls last year in Texas. The Secretary of State’s office says the state has already added back more than that number in new registrations.

So what can my co-worker do? He moved within Travis County last year, and his registration card was delivered to and then returned from his previous address. Clearing it all up can be as easy as heading to the polls, doing a little paperwork, and presto – he’ll be allowed to vote a regular ballot.

He can also head to the county tax assessor collector’s office before the Monday night deadline and update his registration. Even easier, since he lives in Travis County, he can visit votetravis.com and update his registration online. (The online option works only if you’re updating a registration within the same county.)

As KUT has mentioned before, the best way to NOT be surprised when you head to the polls is to check your voter registration status while there’s still time to update it. No matter where you live in Texas, you can check your registration status at votetexas.gov and also find information on what kind of ID you need to vote.

If you want to know what’s going to be on the ballot, head over to vote411.org. The site, run by the League of Women Voters, lets you type in your address and get a personalized ballot with all the races you can vote on in the March primary.

If you have any questions about the primaries and how to vote, send it to our TXDecides project and we’ll try to answer.

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