Editor’s Be aware: This column was submitted to the Texan by a member of the UT neighborhood.
Authorities has a accountability to its residents to make sure their security, present vital companies, and shield their rights. As Americans, we’ve a accountability to obey the nation’s legal guidelines, pay taxes, serve on a jury when referred to as, and vote.
Greater than 200 payments have been filed within the Texas Legislature focusing on voting and the election course of. Many payments are designed to make voting tougher, resembling Home Invoice 2390 from Republican Rep. Carrie Isaac of Wimberley which might ban polling locations on any state college or faculty campus. Payments like these corrupt the federal government’s function. As a substitute of defending our rights as residents, some state legislators want to make it troublesome for college students to vote and refuse to make voter registration extra handy.
Sadly, a lot of our elected federal and state authorities representatives stand on reverse edges of a Grand Canyon-sized chasm. This polarization has led some lawmakers to disregard all of us, particularly with regards to on-line voter registration. It shouldn’t be that manner.
Who ought to lead the cost for change? You. From campus pupil authorities to each particular person pupil, you have got the facility to make change occur. I do know. I’m a proud graduate of the College of Texas at Austin and may attest to the facility of the College’s college students to make adjustments in state authorities. As a pupil, I lobbied the Texas Legislature so as to add a pupil to the UT Board of Regents. They did.
Now, it’s time for UT college students, whether or not Republican, Democrat or Unbiased voters, to train their energy on the state Capitol to demand on-line voter registration for each Texan. On-line voter registration is a course of challenge, not a partisan one. UT Scholar Authorities ought to contact universities and faculties throughout Texas to hitch them within the effort to permit each eligible citizen the choice of registering to vote on-line.
Forty-two different states, together with crimson states like Florida and Alabama and blue states like New York and California, embrace on-line voter registration. Not Texas.
In 2002, when former Arizona Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer made the state the primary within the nation to supply on-line voter registration, the 83-cent price to course of a paper utility plummeted to three cents for a web based one. At the moment, it prices the Travis County Tax Workplace about $1 to course of one paper voter registration utility.
Think about the price financial savings for Texas with its nearly 18 million registered voters among the many state’s 30 million residents. It took a federal court docket order in 2020 to power the state to permit on-line voter registration for Texans who use the web to resume their state driver’s licenses or replace their addresses. And nonetheless, permitting all age-eligible residents on-line voter registration stays elusive.
Each eligible Texas citizen ought to be capable to register to vote on-line. Members of UT’s award-winning TX Votes, a part of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, registered 1000’s of scholars to vote. Take into consideration how nice and simple it may very well be if UT’s skilled deputy voter registrars used tablets to register voters. Take into consideration what number of bushes may very well be saved by giving up the thousands and thousands of paper voter registration functions that Texans are required to make use of.
At a time when some fear about voting fraud and dependable elections, on-line voter registration results in a safe and extra correct voter registration roll.
My fellow UT college students, that is your second. That is your time to shine.
How straightforward it’s to register in Texas and vote on the UT campus or every other campus within the state requires you to take the lead, pushing in opposition to state leaders who wish to silence your voice. You may testify at legislative committee conferences, meet or contact your native legislative representatives, and set up protests on the Capitol garden. In different phrases, “Be loud. Be proud. Hook ‘Em.”
Elfant, class of 1980, is the Travis County tax assessor-collector and voter registrar. He’s a proud Lifetime member of the Texas Exes Alumni Affiliation.