Texas achieves record-breaking number registered voters

Lazaro Hernandez

Texas set a new record this election season by achieving the highest number of registered voters in the state’s history, according to a press release from the Texas Secretary of State.

Despite the record-breaking numbers, officials remain concerned for a low voter turnout in November.

As of Monday, 13,594,264 people were registered on the Official List of Registered Voters, breaking the previous record of 13,575,062 set in the 2008 general election. The current number of registered voters is expected to increase once all voter registration applications submitted the day of the deadline are processed, said Alicia Pierce, spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

“There tends to be a rush of registration right before the deadline, and those are the ones the counties are still counting right now,” Pierce said. “What we do know is that up until now, 2008 had our highest number, and we’ve already broken that number, so we already know this year will have the largest number of registered voters in Texas.”

Despite the high number of registered voters, the state is now looking at ways to encourage Texans to go out and cast their ballots, Pierce said. During the 2008 presidential election, only 60 percent of registered voters in Texas cast their vote, while in 2004 the number was even lower at 57 percent, according to the Texas Secretary of State.

Peck Young, director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, said although many people view voter registration as a social obligation, the same does not apply to actual voting.

“We’re all told that voter registration is a good thing and it is something we should do,” Young said. “Everybody registers like everybody goes to church on Easter or Christmas, but voting is more complicated than that.”

Despite low voter turnouts in previous elections, voters in college are significantly more likely to participate in the election process this year than most young people, Young said.

“We have seen a general uptick in young people’s voting patterns over the last two presidential elections,” he said. “We have especially seen a significant surge among those in college and those who just graduated from college exponentially in a big way.”

Young said people in the 18 to 25 age range could have a significant impact on the outcome of this year’s election.

“Nationally, [young voters] can be significant, because Obama and his folks have been appealing to them and Romney has not been ignoring them,” he said.

Hook the Vote, a nonpartisan UT student organization, has been working on campus to promote voter registration among the student body. In August the organization worked with the
Division of Housing and Food Services to distribute 11,000 voter registration cards in residence hall mailboxes, Hook the Vote director Billy Calve said.

In person, Hook the Vote and partners registered around 3,000 students to vote throughout the semester and 3,500 on the day of the deadline, Calve said.

“This was the first year we provided voter registration cards in dorms,” he said. “We can’t say for sure how many of those students filled out their forms yet, but our hope is that this new resource has boosted student registration at UT.”

Early voting begins Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 6. Registered students can cast their votes on campus at the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center.

Printed on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 as: State registered voter numbers hit new high