Hey, Curious Campus: It’s election season. How do I register to vote?

Megan Menchaca

This November, Texans will not only be casting their ballot for U.S. Senator, but they will also be voting for governor, attorney general, mayor and several state and district judges.

But before heading to the polls, Bruce Elfant, Travis County voter registrar, said Texans must be registered to vote by Oct. 9.

“There’s so many issues that are going to be decided by who we elect — on the local, the state and the national level,” Elfant said. “This election (is) an opportunity for American citizens to help set the direction of our community and country.”

So, when a few of our readers asked us, “How do I register to vote?” we looked into it as part of Curious Campus, our series where we answer reader-submitted questions every week.


Registering to vote:

If you have not previously registered to vote, you can register by filling out the Texas Voter Registration Application online at the Secretary of State’s website or in-person at various government buildings.

Jacob Springer, chief volunteer deputy registrar for TX Votes, said if students don’t want to mail an application themselves, VDRs can also register them to vote.

“(We) have thousands of trained VDRs running around campus, carrying forms and registering their peers,” Springer said. “Oftentimes, students won’t register to vote unless asked, so VDRs are often responsible for increasing turnout and education prior to election day.”

To fill out the application, you will need your name, address, birth date and either the last four digits of your social security number or your Texas driver's license number.

All applications must be mailed to the voter registrar in your county of residence by Oct. 9. The Travis County Tax Office accepts voter registration applications for Travis County residents.


Changing your address:

If you have previously registered in Travis County but have moved addresses, your voter registration will need to be updated with your new address.

Gretchen Nagy, Travis County voter registration director, said updating the address on your voter registration is often overlooked by students, especially after they move into off-campus housing.

“Students may find that after they have registered … that they moved to a new apartment or somewhere else off-campus and now they’re in a totally different district with a different representative,” Nagy said. “If they want to participate in the new election, they need update where they’re registered.”

The process for changing your address is nearly the exact same as the process of registering to vote. You will still fill out the Texas Voter Registration Application online or in-person with all of the relevant information — but you will just check “change of address, name or other information” instead of “new application.”

All applications must be mailed to the Travis County Tax Office by Oct. 9.


Voting Absentee:

If you’re registered in another county — like back home — and are planning on voting there instead of in Travis County, you can mail in an absentee ballot if you won’t be in that county for the election.

To vote absentee, you can fill out the Application for Ballot by Mail online or fill out a request on the Secretary of State’s website to have the application mailed to you. You will need the same information required to fill out the Texas Voter Registration Application.

All applications must be mailed to the voter registrar by Oct. 9 in the county where you’re registered. The addresses for each registrar in each county in Texas can be found here.