Voter registration efforts in Central Texas are eclipsing historical marks. State wide, 14.8 million residents are currently registered, which is a record number.
Voter registration drives, like one held Tuesday at the ACC Highland campus, are hitting high gear. Shainell Clark was among the first time voters to show up and sign up.
"I just feel like my vote matters," said Clark.
Isaiah Sosa also got a voter registration card for the first time.
"Whoever becomes President really decides my future because they're so, they're so different, the two candidates are so different,” said Sosa.
A polarizing top of the ballot is spurring a rush to register new voters before the October 11th deadline. In Williamson County it’s estimated there are 341,000 residents who are at the legal age of voting. As of Tuesday afternoon, 298,000 have registered. Williamson County Elections Administrator Chris Davis says he has hired extra staff to handle the final surge.
"Those that know more than me, have wagered that we are going to hit that 300,000 voter registration water mark before the deadline, I was betting on the under, but it looks like I’m going to lose,” said Davis.
Stacks of registration applications also continue to pile up in Travis County. So far, 707,000 people have registered to vote in Travis County; that’s 89% of the eligible voters. In the next few days, the 90% mark is expected to be hit for the first time.
The increase, in part, is being helped by a smart phone pilot program which allows forms to be mailed to those who text in a request. County Registrar Bruce Elfant believes the entire process should be put on line.
"Absolutely it’s faster, cheaper and smarter, more accurate and 31 states are doing it, with great success, I hope Texas will join them soon."
Legislation is expected to be introduced in January to allow on line voter registration.
As for the upcoming election, the number of registration forms handed out to civic and student organizations is being limited. That’s because of cost and because both Williamson and Travis County have almost maxed out on the total number eligible voters to sign up.
County Election officials are also reminding new and old voters that the Texas Voter ID law is still in play. A recent court ruling did not strike it down it just ordered some modifications. Issues will be resolved by voters signing a sworn statement and using alternate forms of ID. ( Rules Listed Below) Provisional ballots will also be an option.
"We are not turning folks away, and we instruct our poll works not to turn folks away,” said Davis.
To help voters avoid long lines at the polls - Williamson County has a wait-time app. Launched during the spring primary election- the app is an on line mapping program. It provides, close to real time, updates on how long it will take to vote at each county polling place.
Texas Voter ID Law:
7 forms of approved photo ID:
• Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
• Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
• Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
• Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
• United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
• United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
• United States passport
With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the approved photo ID must be current or have expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.
Alternate ID Option:
1. Sign a declaration at the polls explaining why unable to obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID.
2. Provide one of supporting documentation.
- Certified birth certificate (must be an original)
- Valid voter registration certificate
- Copy or original of one of the following: Current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and an address.