AUSTIN, TEXAS – The Texas Secretary of State admitted Tuesday that Texas is in short supply of the voter registration forms the state gives out to organizations registering Texans to vote. The Secretary of State’s office told reporters at KUT that it was harder and more expensive to get paper. As a result, organizations registering voters will receive fewer forms to register voters than in previous years.
This shortage will certainly impact voter registration efforts across Texas. Our state historically has very low voter turnout, and the only way to combat this is by going to underrepresented communities and registering new voters. Regardless of who people vote for, access to voting should not be limited because of a paper shortage.
When voter registration is arbitrarily limited by a paper shortage, our elections suffer. Because the passage of Senate Bill 1 required an updated form, voter registration organizations ordered an increased number of new forms this year. The Secretary of State’s office discouraged the use of the old form to register voters but said to KUT that election workers are able to accept outdated forms if they include the information needed on the updated form. Although this approach may help organizations avoid shortages, it creates additional work for elections workers who will have to manually inspect each form, and this, in turn, creates another opportunity for registrations to be rejected.
It should be obvious that this problem is entirely avoidable. Supply chains are complicated, but online voter registration should not be. More than half of the states in the U.S. already use online voter registration. It’s time to bring Texas’ voting system into the 21st century and avoid the anti-democratic policy of disenfranchising new voters. With the Texas Legislature unlikely to change anytime soon, we need federal legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act and John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. These Acts have the power to protect our voting rights and make sure that states offer online voter registration.
At Jolt, we provide an online tool to make registering to vote in Texas easy. Through our online portal, you can start the process of registering online, and the forms you need will be sent to you. Click the image below to get started!