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Groups across Texas host voter registration drives amid COVID-19 pandemic

Civic engagement groups are out in the communities hoping to make up for lost time and gain some ground.
Credit: KHOU

HOUSTON — With the voter registration deadline of Oct. 5 fast approaching, the COVID-19 pandemic spoiling the commonly used venues to register voters, civic engagement groups are out in the communities hoping to make up for lost time and gain some ground.

“We’re going to try to motivate them,” said Mary Gow, coordinator of the Get out the Vote campaign in Alamo, Texas. "Trying to get them out of their little bubble where they’re afraid to come and register to vote.”

Gow said there are a lot of people in certain areas of the Rio Grande Valley who are not informed of the importance of voting.

“A lot of people, because they don't see things happening in their community. They think that it's not going to happen, but they have to come out and vote. So they can see the difference in their community,” Gow said.

In Austin, the League of Women Voters Austin Area organized a voter registration event that will offer residents multiple opportunities over several days to register.

“I think in Texas specifically, people feel it's a lot more up in the air,” said Valerie DeBill, League of Women Voters Austin Area Alamo Drafthouse event lead. “A lot of people are very enthused and motivated because they feel like there actually might be a chance to make a difference, as opposed to a lot of previous years where folks have felt like it kind of didn't matter, because it was a foregone conclusion how things would turn out.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of August 2020, 40 states have online voter registration. One state, Oklahoma, passed legislation to make this possible and is currently in the process of implementing it. 

Texas does not offer online voter registration.

The League of Women Voters, a 100-year-old non-partisan civic engagement organization, is hosting several registration drives leading up to and including Oct. 5.

In Austin, the League will be at the Alamo Drafthouse’s Slaughter Lane location from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28 and Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The League will be at the Alamo Drafthouse’s Lakeline location from 8 a.m. until midnight Oct. 5, the voter registration deadline day in Texas.

In the Houston-Harris County area, League of Women Voters of Houston, Bay Area and Cy-Fair are working with the Harris County library branches to make multiple voter registration locations possible. Originally planned for Tuesday, Sept. 22, but rained out because of Tropical Storm Beta, the league is hosting multiple registration sites Friday, Sept. 25.

LWV-Houston has an interactive map here. You can also check out votetexas.gov for additional information or visit your county’s elections administrator or county clerk.

Back in the Valley, Jocelyn Resendez with the Get Out the Vote campaign told us she registered three people so far.

“If we register one person, it’s another person who’s going to have their voice to vote,” Resendez said.