AUSTIN (KXAN) — The number of registered voters in Texas hit a new record high last month, and the total is growing leading up to the Oct. 9 deadline to register.
According to Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, as of September 25, Texas had more than 15.6 million registered voters. That’s up 11-percent from the last midterm election. The increase is outpacing the overall population growth in Texas.
But what’s not clear is how many of those voters will show up at the polls. Younger voters, in particular, are traditionally less likely to vote. That’s despite years of outreach programs aimed at increasing turnout for younger adults.
“To borrow a phrase from a cult film classic, the problem with young voters is we get older and they stay the same age,” said Dallas Morning News reporter James Barragán during an interview on the State of Texas politics program. “You’ve got to keep reaching out to them and keep teaching them how to register to vote,” he explained.
“It’s a constant battle, and that’s been a battle that’s been difficult here in Texas,” Barragán said.
It’s not just young voters who have trouble getting to the polls. “Anytime you register somebody new, campaigns know those are really tough voters to get into that habit,” said Houston Chronicle reporter Jeremy Wallace. “I think trying to get first-time voters becomes part of the get out the vote campaign of any campaign.”
The effort could pay off in this election. Many first-time voters have been drawn in by the excitement surrounding the Senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. That excitement could bring votes to candidates farther down the ballot.
“I think the one thing that O’Rourke and Cruz have both done: they have focused on energizing people,” Wallace said. “They have the ability to affect all of the races down the ballot if they get their people out.”