Travis County registers record percentage of eligible voters, looks ahead to election day turnout

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Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Travis County has registered a total of 717,694 voters for the upcoming election, and continues to process voter registration forms submitted before the deadline, surpassing its original goal of registering 90 percent of the county’s eligible voters, according to the Tax Office website.

The 90 percent goal was proposed last September by Bruce Elfant, Travis County’s tax assessor-collector and voter registrar. Since then, the county has registered more than 80,000 voters, according to the Tax Office website.

Campus volunteer deputy registrars worked all day Tuesday to register as many citizens as possible and ended the day with a registration rally at the UT Tower that lasted until midnight, the deadline to register in Texas. 

Elfant made an appearance at the rally and discussed the disparity between the number of people registered and the number of people who actually vote. Elfant said he is pleased with registration numbers, but that doesn’t mean all of those people will vote in November. 

Elfant said the May election on Proposition 1, which dealt with ridehailing, demonstrated a low turnout rate. Only 17 percent of the voting population voted in that election.

“In our rideshare election, 83 percent sat out on the sidelines,” Elfant said. “It’s very corrosive on our electoral system that so few people turn out to vote.” 

More than 3,000 VDRs were trained in Travis County this year. Tuesday’s event had VDRs from different organizations on campus, including Hook the Vote, Texas Rising, UT Votes and University Democrats, the organizations hosting the event. 

Elfant had two simple words for the VDRs who had worked since before the primary to register voters: thank you.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Elfant said. “We have 3,000 deputy registrars and over 600 working yesterday alone to register voters to hopefully make Travis County the top registered county in the state of Texas.”

Elfant’s office stayed open until midnight to get as many people registered to vote as possible. Most other county’s offices closed at 5 p.m. Elfant said the county will not know until after the November election where they rank against other counties when it comes to registered voters, which Travis County currently leads the state in.

Kassie Barroquillo, a communications studies graduate student, said now that registration is over, the important thing is for voters to educate themselves about the issues and candidates on the ballot.

“I think preparing yourself to go in and fulfill your democratic duty is important,” Barroquillo said. “One of the number one excuses young people use for not voting is that they feel that they’re not educated on the topic.” 

Bailey Schumm, VDR and agency director for Hook the Vote, said it’s a satisfying feeling seeing all of the hard work pay off. 

“I understand that there are a lot of students this year who may not be pleased with the candidates, but there are a lot of really important down-ballot races that will directly impact students,” said Schumm, a public health junior.

Election Day is Nov. 8, but early voting will be available at different locations in Travis County Oct. 24 through Nov. 4. Students can vote on campus at the Flawn Academic Center. Voters must bring an acceptable form of identification. Further details can be found on the Texas Secretary of State website or votetexas.gov.