The Texas Democratic Party announced on Tuesday that it plans to send voter registration applications and postage stamps to every Texan looking to vote in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person get-out-the-vote efforts nearly impossible.
Texas is one of 10 states that doesn’t currently allow potential voters to register online, meaning they must either submit applications in person or print and mail applications on their own. The state Democratic Party said it created a website, Register Texas, that will allow supporters of any party to request that an application and a stamp be mailed to them. The application is designed to come with a pre-addressed envelope addressed to each voter’s county clerk, so prospective voters will only need to drop the application in the mailbox to register.
Luke Warford, voter expansion director for the Texas Democratic Party, said the Register Texas website is designed to mimic the ease of in-person voter registration at a time when health officials are encouraging Americans to practice self-isolation to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“In a state where on-site voter registration is impossible, we’ve essentially come up with a system that removes as many barriers as possible,” Warford said, adding that not having supplies ― like a printer, for example ― can be insurmountable for some people wishing to vote.
“The more of those barriers you can reduce for people, the higher the likelihood that folks are actually going to get registered,” he added. Although Register Texas is not the first digital voter registration effort, Texas Democrats say the fact they are mailing the registration forms along with pre-addressed envelopes and postage is what sets their site apart from initiatives like Vote.org or Rock the Vote.
“The process is just us mailing voter registration applications, and people mail them in themselves, which is already something we were doing in the state,” Warford said. “The innovation here is combining that with an online request.”
He said the party is discussing the plan with other state Democratic parties.
Texas Democrats told HuffPost that Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs (R) is aware the site exists. In recent weeks, Texas Democrats and voting rights activists have debated Republicans over the need for more voter protection measures amid the pandemic.
During one dispute in court on April 16, a Texas judge appeared to side with Democrats, who argued every voter should be allowed to vote by mail in the state’s upcoming elections.
Republicans in the state, including State Attorney General Ken Paxton, claim state law permits voting by mail only for people over age 65, people who are incarcerated but not yet convicted, residents who are outside the country and those who are sick or disabled.
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