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With Election Day Approaching, Register to Vote by October 9

VoterRegistrationCheckMarkBy Dr. Nidhi Trehan

SUGAR LAND:  Folks, it’s time yet again to participate in the great democratic process in America – midterm elections are upon us November 6th!

And while there are a number of things to be proud of as Texans, unfortunately, our record on voting is certainly not one of them. It’s sad, but true, we actually stand at 49 out of 50 states, near the bottom in terms of voter participation.

According to the Washington Post, during election cycles where Congressional seats are up for grabs, Texans tied at the bottom in voter turnout with Washington DC, a federal district that has no members of Congress!  This is based on an analysis of voter turnout for the 2006, 2010 and 2014 midterm elections. In the last midterm election in 2014, only 28% of Texas voters went to the polls.

Let’s be clear y’all  – Your Vote counts! Especially with respect to this upcoming midterm in November, there are many myths about the voting process…so let me just tackle a few:

The number 1 myth confronting us today is “My Vote Doesn’t Count” because everything is presumably based on the Electoral College system.

Wrong! Only Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections are decided on the basis of the Electoral College system. In fact, all other offices – your US Senator, your House Representative, the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land, Agriculture and Railroad Commissioners all the way down the ballot to your local county clerk – all these positions are decided by a simple majority of votes, in other words on the “one citizen = one vote” principle.  So, for example, in the special election for the US Senate in December 2017 in Alabama, Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated his Republican opponent by only 1.5% of votes or less than 21,000 votes

Here are some important upcoming dates and tips to becoming an informed voter

Two helpful websites are: Check if you are registered to vote:  https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do and Where do I vote?: 

https://www.votetexas.gov/voting/where.html

* Voter Registration Ends October 9, so gather all your friends and relatives and act fast. It’s easy to register – go to www.votetexas.gov to download voter registration forms online, print and mail to the registrar.

*Early Voting begins on October 22 and is conveniently located at many polling stations near your home, typically in local schools or community organizations, including some temples and churches.

*Senior Citizens and those with disabilities or those who will be abroad in November can vote by mail – you can register very easily and don’t need to go to the polling site yourself. Go to www.sos.state.tx.us

*Get information on the local candidates and the local races – be informed of who is running for your School Board, Your County Treasurer, Judges, and your Texas State legislator (Texas has two bodies in Austin – the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate), amongst other posts. Check out this website for the general ballot https://apps.texastribune.org/features

Finally, grab two friends who normally don’t vote in the mid-terms, make sure they register by October 9th and take them to vote with you!

Nidhi Trehan is a Political Sociologist and Visiting Scholar at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT Austin and an Ambassador for the “Beto for Senate” campaign in Texas

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