1.5 Million Texans Register Online to Vote After Court Ruling
Texas State Data has shown that 1.5 million voters on the state have registered online about a year and a half since a federal judge forced the state to offer limited online voter registration.
In August 2020, the court found that Texas had violated the National Voter Registration Act and ordered state officials to allow residents to register when they renew their driver’s license online.
“The very best thing you can do is have systems where the government is seamlessly integrating voter registration into other processes,” said Mimi Marziani, the president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which represented the plaintiffs at the court in a case that led to the creation of the online system.
Details of those who registered including how many are first-time voters are not clear. The secretary of state declined Hearst Newspapers’ request to provide information about those who registered.
About 1.9 million people use the Department of Public Safety website to renew their license each year, Marziani said.
According to state data, about 40 percent of the online registration applications came from Texas’ five most populous counties. Roughly 200,000 people have used the option in Harris County, and 100,000 in Bexar.
Experts say the option has removed a barrier for those who likely aren’t thinking about updating their voter registration information after moving when they are required by law to update their address. They contend it’s especially useful as Texas has cracked down on fraudulent ballots — a process that can flag simple mistakes, like using an outdated address when voting.
“Getting registered to vote is not something that many people necessarily remember. And in the process of moving, it’s very likely that this would not be on the top of their list of things to address, like changing their electricity, gas providers and forwarding all their mail,” said Joshua Blank, the research director of the Texas Politics Project.
Without more granular data on first-time voter registrations filed online, it’s difficult to determine whether the option has had a significant impact on Texas’ overall registration numbers, Blank added. More than 17 million people are registered to vote in Texas.