Are you registered to vote? It is an easy thing to check and even easier to do. For all the discussion about voter disenfranchisement and voter fraud the larger problem is actually much more serious. In the last general election, 2012, the population of the United States was 314.1 million people according to the United States Census Bureau. Of those 314.1 million people, there was an estimated 219 million people eligible to vote. One would think that a 50 percent voter turnout would be simply unacceptable. Considering all of the rhetoric coming from everyone in this election cycle and the heated passion for a change from the electorate, one would expect to see that number much higher. But the fact remains that during that last general election cycle, the participation in our democracy declined.
In 2008, voters turned out to tune of 131 million for that election cycle which can be greatly attributed to the eventual election of President Obama. Yet, when his reelection was at stake, the number of voters actually declined to 126 million voters. While that is still over the 50 percent mark, it is a far cry from where it should be. To put this into perspective, that would the equivalent of the entire state of Wisconsin or Minnesota or Colorado or Oregon or nearly 2/3 of our United States with populations under 6 million residents each, respectively, voluntarily choosing not to vote. That is insanity! Especially when who gets into elected office will have an impact on your life as you choose to watch from the sidelines!
In Texas, it is pretty easy to register to vote.
To be eligible to register in Texas, you must:
- be a U.S. citizen;
- be a resident of the county;
- be 18 years old (you may register at 17 years and 10 months);
- not a convicted felon (unless a person’s sentence is completed, including any probation or parole)
- not declared mentally incapacitated by a court of law
A voter who has not been issued a driver’s license or social security number may register to vote, but such voter must submit proof of identification when presenting himself/herself for voting or with his/her mail-in ballots, if voting by mail. These voters’ names are flagged on the official voter registration list with the annotation of “ID.” The “ID” notation instructs the poll worker to request a proper form of identification from these voters when they present themselves for voting, unless they are a voter with a permanent exemption on the voter registration certificate. The voter must present one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of identification:
- Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
- Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
- Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
- United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
- United States passport
Let your voice be heard this election day. In order to do that, you must first be registered to vote.