HOUSTON—On the grassy plaza outside the University of Houston’s main library, Mayra Sanchez carries a clipboard as she wanders up to students walking between classes.
“Excuse me,” she says. “Are you guys registered to vote?”
Perhaps it’s a good sign that most of the students she approaches say, yes, they’re registered. But quite a few of them say they aren’t. And Sanchez has a message.
“As you come to the universities, the students, the first thing they say is, ‘Oh, our vote doesn’t count because of the Electoral College.’” she says. “But there’s other things, too: The local officials, different kinds of bonds that are going to be on this ballot.”
All over the world, people have fought and died for the right to vote. Here in the United States, all you have to do is register. But if you haven’t already, you need to do it fast.
Tuesday, October 9, is the deadline for registering to vote in the 2012 elections in Texas.
Nobody knows that better than the Harris County employees sitting around a conference table in downtown Houston, ripping and cutting and processing the daily mail delivery of voter registration applications. Some of the applications are sealed with staples and tape applied by voters apparently worried their private information would be compromised.
As the deadline for voter registration approaches, election officials believe Harris County may cross an historic threshold. For the first time, the largest county in Texas may head into an election day with more than two million registered voters.
“Of course, this makes sense because we know that the population of the county is growing,” Harris County Tax Assessor Don Sumners said. “Really, the voter roll has not grown at the same rate as the population has.”
By noon Monday, the tax office had 1,967,637 registered voters on file. About 20,000 remained to be processed, officials said, and a large number of applications were still expected to arrive by mail.
“It looks like we may very easily make the two million mark this year for the very first time,” Sumners said.
Registering to vote is easy. Applications are available at a variety of government offices, including city libraries and county tax offices. But the simplest method of registering to vote is by downloading an application, filling it out and either dropping it off at a county tax office or mailing it in. Click here to access an application.
One very important point: Voter registration applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by Tuesday.
“Let me warn you that a lot of the post offices now have final pick-ups that are pretty early in the day,” Sumners said. “So if you are on the last day, you probably should go inside and get the clerk to stamp it so that it will be postmarked by the 9th.”