It was a busy Monday morning for those helping to prepare for the November General Election in Travis County. Voting machines were dusted off and booted up. Batches of ballots were processed for the 25,000 residents who will vote by mail.
Temporary staffing positions were also filled in order to wade through the stacks of registration forms that continue to come in. Forrest Starr was among those at the registrar’s office to sign up before Tuesday’s midnight deadline.
"I could not find my registration card and I always vote, so we were in here doing another tax thing, so I figured I come over here and make sure I have a card,” said Starr.
By midday Monday, 89.9% of those eligible to vote in Travis County had signed up. Going above 90% has never been done, according to county registrar Bruce Elfant.
"What's motivating me is that the United States is 100th in the world in voter turnout, and Texas is 50th in the nation in turnout, and we believe Travis County can be a leader in voter registration and voter participation, and we hope what we do will be followed by other counties and Texas will become a more participatory state when it comes to registering and voting."
Texas is one of 19 states that doses not register voters on line, but Travis County is doing a hybrid program of sorts. They set up a bank of computers at the main office on Airport Blvd. where you can come in and type in your information. You can also fill out the form at home, but you have to print out the document and then bring it down to the office.
"The new way should take, on a regular time frame, if we are not in an election cycle, take two to three days at the most, the old way three to five days,” said Voter Registration Director Gretchen Nagy.
Tuesday night the registrar's office will be open until mid-night. There will also be late night sign up events at U.T near the Clock Tower - as well as at Thunder Cloud Sub locations and at any Alamo Draft House.
The extra effort, has paid off, there will be 100,000 more people eligible to vote in Travis County than the amount available during the 2012 presidential election. Despite all that work, history indicates many who sign up may not vote. In 2012 almost 40 percent of the eligible votes in Travis County stayed home.