On a fall Monday in 2010, agents with the Texas attorney general’s office raided the offices of Houston Votes, a large-scale voter registration project.
Attorney General Greg Abbott said the raid was required to protect the integrity of the ballot box. Critics say it was a heavy handed effort to intimidate voter registration in an area where voter turnout is historically low.
Fred Lewis is the president of Texans Together, the nonprofit parent group of Houston Votes.
Texas Matters: The Texas-Mexico border is seeing a human wave of children from Central America, but what can be done about it? Texas moves to privatize a big part of the foster care program, but will it make the troubled system any safer for the children? Also on this show: Is Texas ready for online voter registration?
A committee of House lawmakers heard the reasons why the state of Texas would be better served with an online voter registration system, but some groups remain skeptical about the possibility of voter fraud.
As of April, 19 states offer online voter registration. Last legislative session Texas came very close to passing their own version but it was not added the calendar for a final vote. In this period between sessions, lawmakers are re-considering the same thing.
A civil rights group based in Austin has released a new report that alleges the Texas Secretary of State is not doing enough to explain the process for voter registration or get people signed up to vote.
Texas Matters: There are reports that the state's new voter ID law is causing problems for women at the polls whose names on their drivers license don't exactly match their voter registration card. A closer look at Prop. 5, the reverse mortgage issue on this year's statewide ballot. Also on this show: Kinky Friedman back in politics, Ted Cruz' father steps into the limelight.
One year ago a Galveston judge ruled the 2011 law that places additional requirements and bans on Texans running voter registration drives was too restrictive and therefore unconstitutional. That ruling has now been overturned by the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Today the governor announced his appointment of San Antonio attorney John Steen as the new Texas Secretary of State, days after former Secretary Hope Andrade suddenly announced her resignation last week.
The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, October 9th. Bexar County Elections Administrator Jackie Callanen says the date is extended because of the Monday holiday, and she’s optimistic that a few extra people might register before the deadline.
"When we had the primary election, here in Bexar County we had 875,000 people registered to vote," said Callanen. "Today when I looked at the numbers, we had 898,000. So we're increasing by about 1,000 or 1,500 a day from the applications that we have."
Fred Lewis, the Director of Texans Together, says the real challenge is getting people involved more often on a local level, so they can see concrete results from participating. University of Texas at San Antonio political science professor Walter Wilson says poorly distributed congressional districts contribute to poor Latino voter turnout. Saul Elbein's article, “No Shows: why so few Texans bother to vote” also explores the reasons why so many people don't even try to get to the polls.