AUSTIN, Texas — A new record for voter registration in Travis County was hit, with more than 821,000 people now registered.
It’s the most ever, after adding another 50,000 or so in the last year, said Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant.
“Travis County is leading the way for the state. We have the highest registration rate of any urban county in Texas,” Elfant said.
The high number of voters registered over the last year was unusual, since it wasn’t a presidential election year, he said.
“After a midterm or presidential election it's pretty quiet and people aren't thinking about voter registration – they're getting back to their lives and all,” Elfant said.
But part of Elfant’s life is getting more people registered, so the work doesn’t stop. He held a volunteer deputy registrar training on Saturday morning, helping teach people how to get others registered.
“It's not just about registering. It's about giving people information about the election, where to vote, and how to vote, and most importantly why they should vote,” Elfant said.
Travis County currently has about 4,000 volunteer deputy registrars (VDR), which Elfant said are considered a “civic engagement army.”
TJ Lewis has been a VDR for the past 12 years.
“At first I was nervous to get people to sign up. Now, it just comes with real ease. You can just go up to somebody and say, ‘Hey, are you a registered voter?’” Lewis said. “Everybody should vote. We have the freedom to vote, where a lot of people don't. It only takes a few minutes. It's well worth just going ahead and doing it.”
Friends Dianna Purcell and Morgan Peretti were trained for the first time on Saturday.
“Whenever I see somebody registering people to vote, I am always really impressed that they're out there and happy to get involved,” Purcell said. “I was really impressed at how high the voter registration already is and I'm excited to be a part of maintaining that and hopefully getting to 100%.”
Peretti said since it’s not easy to register to vote in Texas, the more people that can be out helping, the better.
“I think they take this really great, inclusive approach in making sure that everyone knows they're eligible and trying to get them to the polls,” Peretti said.
Registration for the November election is open until Oct. 5.
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