Monday is the last day to register to vote in time for the Nov. 3 general elections. People who are eligible but don’t have voter registration cards should fill out an application and sending it to their county elections office. Applications should be available at most government offices that are open, including post offices and the Department of Public Safety.
People can also go to the state’s voter information website, votetexas.gov, click on the “Register to Vote” tab and print out an application that can be taken to the county office. People who have moved or need to make other corrections on their registration cards can make those changes at the same website. Local county elections office websites also have similar registration aides.
Many people might have received an application in the mail that can be sent, postage paid, to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office in Austin, and that is yet another option.
More people vote in presidential elections, given the controversial nature of the current national campaigns and heavy turnout during the spring primaries, so it’s best to send in the application as soon as possible. But even people who might be turned off by the caustic nature of the presidential race have many other reasons to participate in the election. Every member of the House of Representatives both in Congress and the state Legislature are on the ballot, as well as at least one-third of the Senate seats in each house. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is up for reelection this year, as are all three of the state Senate districts that represent the Rio Grande Valley.
Other state and local positions also are on the ballot; depending on each voter’s address they could include various judicial seats, sheriff, constables, school board members and other key positions. While these races generally don’t get the same attention, or voter turnout, that presidential and congressional races receive, those positions perhaps are even more important in our daily lives, as these office holders determine out tax rates, educate our children and enact and enforce the laws under which we must live every day.
Many people fear that the COVID-19 pandemic will affect voter turnout by scaring some people into not participating. State courts prohibited elections offices from allowing people to vote if they don’t already qualify due to age, illness or plans to be absent on Election Day. Gov. Greg Abbott, however, has extended the early voting period, giving people more time to find the best day to cast their ballots. Early voting begins Oct. 13.
Also, elections offices have taken every step possible to ensure voters’ safety, and the primary runoffs provided an opportunity to test and refine their precautions.
Most importantly, we must remember that the process isn’t as easy as walking into a polling site and casting a ballot. Voters should take the next few days to learn as much as they can about the issues and candidates, so they can make the best decisions possible.
People often complain about public officials. We put them there, however. Let everyone who can participate in that process do so, and strive to elect the most qualified candidates.