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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Opinion

Voting in Texas needs to be easier to ensure every voice is heard


Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

A big issue in our country is that a lot of people don’t vote in elections. Some neglect voting out of apathy, some out of contempt, but some neglect it because the voting process isn’t the easiest, particularly in Texas. 

The Lone Star State needs to have an online voter registration system and allow mass voting by mail to make voting more accessible for everyone.

Some people may not understand why voting needs to be made easier. During election season, I’ve asked fellow peers if they’re registered to vote and often I’ll hear that they found it too difficult or they were overwhelmed by the registration process and the voting process in general. 

Whether or not you agree that the process is overwhelming or too hard, these people’s voices are not being heard. With more votes, we would have a more democratic election by definition, so there really shouldn’t be opposition to an easier voting system. 

The process of registering to vote in Texas consists of either going to a place where you can do so, like the local voter registrar’s office, the county clerk or by printing out a form online and then mailing it in. 

This may be easy for some people, but for others, the extra work of finding a place to register or having to mail a registration in is enough to discourage them from voting. 

The discouragement that eligible voters feel can affect the voter turnout in a state. California, which has a quick online voter registration system, registered 80 percent of eligible voters for the March 3 primary; Texas, meanwhile, registered 75 percent.

Online registration is very easy. It takes about five to 10 minutes to complete and automatically compares your information with the information on your driver’s license or state-issued ID. If the information doesn’t match, an official will review the information manually.

An online system would be a lot easier for many people who don’t want to deal with the hassle of mailing or finding a place to register. It’s a safe and quick registration system, and there are really no downsides to it.  

Another voting change Texas should implement is to allow absentee voting without conditions or requests. California had a great voter turnout for the March 3 primary, the biggest ever seen for a primary. About two-thirds of those votes were mailed in absentee ballots. 

Texas had a lot less turnout proportionally for the March 3 primary. Just think of how many more people could vote if they mailed in their ballots. 

In Texas, you can mail in your ballot only if you are out of town, over 65, disabled or ill. These requirements leave out people who work and don’t have time to wait, for sometimes hours, to vote at the polls and other life conditions that would discourage people from voting. 

We shouldn’t gatekeep mail-in voting. There is really no point in having people come to the polls if they don’t want to. With mail in ballots, we could give more people opportunities to vote, increasing the opportunities for people to have their voices heard. 

Texas politics often carry the values of democracy and that freedom shouldn’t be stifled. If we care about democracy and freedom in this state, we should make voting easier so that more people have the freedom to participate in democracy. 

Anna Baker is an English sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]

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