Although the next local election is not until November, some Texans may need to start preparing early with the upcoming voter registration deadline.
Oct. 7 is the last day for people to register to vote in Texas for the Nov. 5 local elections this year, according to the Lubbock County Elections Office (LCEO) website. Registration applications, which are available at county elections offices, driver license offices, some government offices, post offices, public assistance agencies and public libraries, need to be submitted to the LCEO in person or postmarked by this date.
One can also access an informal registration application and an informal online application by visiting the links on the LCEO website.
Those who are wondering if they have to register can visit the website’s voter information lookup.
Being registered, according to the LCEO website, consists of being a United States citizen, a resident of the county where registration was or will be completed, at least 18 years old or sometimes 17 years and 10 months old and not be a convicted felon or declared mentally incapacitated by law.
Regardless of the requirements to register to vote in Texas, there are a variety of reasons one may not register to vote.
Seth McKee, associate professor in the Tech Department of Political Science, said there are different factors a person must consider before registering in Texas, which has a registration deadline 30 days before election day. He said there is one downside to moving to a different state or county regarding voter registration.
“If you live in one location, and you’re registered and you never move, you never have to register again,” he said. “But there’s another issue there.”
Registration is not the first task people think about when moving to a new county or state, McKee said.
If a person has moved to a different county, they have to re-register by filling out a new application and delivering it in person or through mail to the voter registrar of the new county, according to the Vote Texas website. If one has moved within the same county or has changed his or her name, that person will need to notify the voter registrar of the change.
For more information about how to make these changes, visit the Vote Texas website.
Along with forgetting to register because of a move to a different county, McKee said how one is able to register is another important motivator.
“Registration has become easier with online voter registration in most states,” he said. “But Texas doesn’t have it, so that’s still more costly an endeavor in Texas to get registered.”
Interest in the election and candidates is another factor that may sway someone to register to vote.
“There’s a lot of people in the United States who just aren’t political,” he said. “Think about apolitical people. Why bother to register if you have no intention of voting?”
Kevin Banda, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, said in general, people do not register to vote because they are not interested in voting or may be unaware that they have to register. Thinking that one’s vote is not going to matter in the long-run is a mentality some people have, he said.
“I would say that the people who think that understand math better than the people who don’t think that,” he said. “That’s mathematically correct. It’s incredibly unlikely that my vote is ever going to be pivotal in any election.”
Even though an individual vote will not affect the outcome of an election, Banda said this mentality can still be an issue for voter registration and representation of voters in a county.
“Now, the bigger problem from a societal perspective is not that I think that or you think that or whatever,” he said. “It’s that if too many people think that, then you’re not really getting a representative cross-section of people who are participating in elections.”
For some people, the type of election may be a motivator that pushes them to register to vote.
Whether it be a presidential election or a local election, people may be swayed by what is occurring in an election.
Joel Sievert, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, said the outreach in presidential elections differs from that in local elections.
“Some of this comes down to the incentives that each politician has,” he said regarding getting people to register to vote. “So, in a presidential election, it’s a national contest, you’re really trying to maximize the number of people and you have a lot more resources. Local politicians aren’t going to have those same types of resources.”
During presidential elections, Sievert said one can see people who are reminding potential voters to register and vote.
“You don’t tend to see that as much as a local level,” he said regarding these informants. “Some of that is just a resource difference.”
The types of people registering for local elections are a small group and are more than likely already registered, Sievert said. Presidential elections tend to have more people registering and voting.
Regardless of people’s participation during national and local elections, there are a variety of reasons why one may not fill out a registration application to take part in this November’s election.
“The costs to getting registered are not something they are willing to or can pay,” he said regarding those who do not register. “But again, a lot of too comes down to general political engagement.”