We can all increase voter registration

12/23/2013 5:19 PM

12/23/2013 5:20 PM

In October, right before the presidential election, Texas reached its highest-ever number of registered voters — more than 13.6 million.

As we Texans prepare for another election year in 2014, it’s a good time for us to remember to both register to vote and encourage others to register to vote and help our registration numbers keep pace with our state’s growing population.

As we have done in the past, the Office of the Secretary of State will invest in television, print, radio and digital messages to educate voters about the elections process, including registration.

However, as I have traveled all across this state to promote voter education, I have seen firsthand that friends, family and neighbors hold a lot of sway when it comes to encouraging people to register.

With that in mind, I want to share with you a few ways that you can register to vote and also encourage fellow Texans to do the same.

Registering to vote has never been easier. You can visit VoteTexas.gov to download and print an application or request a pre-printed, postage-paid application be mailed directly to your address.

Additionally, you can pick up pre-printed registration cards from your county registrar, many post offices, libraries, Texas Department of Public Safety offices and Texas Health and Human Services Commission offices throughout the state.

We work with all these agencies to encourage voter registration at the point of service.

County registrars also find innovative ways to promote voter education in their communities.

For example, many sent volunteer deputy registrars to the 25 mobile election identification certificate (EIC) stations our office deployed throughout the state in the fall in partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

You should feel free to pass out registration cards to friends and family.

While state law requires citizens to get special training to collect and submit registration cards, anyone may distribute registration cards for voters to mail back themselves.

You can also share the links to voter registration applications through social media and email, which our office often does through Facebook and the @VoteTexas Twitter account.

Don’t know if you are registered to vote? Need to update your voter registration?

You can check your registration status by going through VoteTexas.gov.

As long as you aren’t changing the county of your registration, you can easily update your voter registration information directly online.

If you know someone who recently turned 18 or is about to celebrate that birthday, be sure to remind him or her about registering.

While our office works with school administrators across the state to encourage high school seniors to register, it may be even more meaningful for a personal reminder to come from you.

Sometimes young voters don’t think about registering until the eve of a presidential election, sometimes too late to register in time.

By registering now, they can participate in the upcoming primary and state elections that will affect their future.

Military and overseas voters can use the federal postcard application to not only register but also to automatically request mail-in ballots for the rest of the year.

The federal postcard application can be found at FVAP.gov.

It’s important to keep some registration deadlines in mind. Feb. 3 is that last day to register to vote in time for the March 4 primary elections, and Oct. 6 is the last day to register for the Nov. 4 general election.

As the Office of the Texas Secretary of State works diligently to make sure all eligible Texans have the opportunity to register, I ask that you join us in our registration efforts in 2014.

Registering to vote is a new year’s resolution we can all embrace.

John Steen is the Texas secretary of state. www.sos.state.tx.us/

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