Last day to register to vote
Not all midterm elections are alike. Sometimes the issues are so arcane or the candidates so unattractive that it’s difficult to get excited, but not this year. Texans on Nov. 6 will choose a governor, a U.S. senator, 36 members of the U.S. House, and in Houston decide whether firefighters and police officers should be paid the same. You won’t want to miss this election, so don’t forget that this is the last day to register.
Record voter registration suggests the public knows the stakes are high. Voter rolls since the state’s last midterm election in 2014 have grown to 15.6 million people, including 1.6 million new voters, according to Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos. A 400,000-person increase in voters since March far exceeds the rate of 100,000 new voters a year that the state added between 2002 and 2014.
More than 91 percent of the about 790,000 eligible voters in Travis County have registered. University of Texas and other college students in the county are expected to make a difference in the tight race between incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Harris County added 55,482 new voters to its rolls between March and September, raising its total to nearly 2.3 million registered voters. That surge occurred despite the county not having a voter registration director since last October and the erroneous suspension of 1,700 voters’ registrations by Tax Assessor-Collector Ann Harris Bennett. The registrations since have been restored.
Another 2,400 potential voters in Dallas, Bexar, Cameron and Travis counties had their online registration applications rejected because they included digital photographs of their signatures. The Texas Secretary of State gave the would-be voters 10 days to submit new applications with handwritten signatures. Vote.org chief operating officer Raven Brooks says it’s another example of Texas throwing up “roadblocks” to depress voter participation.
You can make sure you haven’t inadvertently stumbled across any roadblocks by checking the Texas Secretary of State website to see if you are listed as registered. If you don’t see your name on the official rolls or haven’t applied to vote, you may still have time to meet the deadline by filling out an application and getting it to your county voter registrar’s office. Mailed applications must be postmarked by Oct. 9.
This is an important election. Control of Congress could change hands. The firefighter pay vote could shake up city government. Another ballot measure will determine how Houston handles flooding. You can’t vote on any of that if you’re not registered.