Voter Registration Day 2020 push seen all across Austin on Tuesday

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Austin (KXAN) — On this year’s National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 22, Austinites will see plenty of reminders — online and in-person — about how to get registered to vote in the November election.

National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan, civic holiday on the fourth Tuesday of September, first observed in 2012.

In Texas, you must register to vote by Oct. 5 in order to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 election.

Not sure if you’re already registered? You can check through the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

Hitting the phone lines

From a studio in east Austin, the nonpartisan nonprofit Move Texas hosted a concert and telethon on Tuesday. They said they intended to call 100,000 unregistered young people and offer to help get them registered during that time.

Registering at schools

On Tuesday at Austin Achieve Public Schools in northeast Austin, families lined up in cars as part of an ongoing healthy food distribution program outside the school. Volunteer deputy registrars were there to meet them and help them get registered.

Parents are met by volunteer deputy registrars who are there to help parents get registered to vote (KXAN/ Julie Karam)

John Armbrust, founder CEO of Austin Achieve Public Schools, told KXAN that the event is part of the charter school’s broader voter registration efforts this year.

Each Saturday, the school has been doing a voter registration drive at its high school campus and asking high school students to volunteer with the election process in Travis County.

So far 67 have signed up.

The campus will also serve as a polling location on Election Day.

“This is a pretty historic unique election year, and so I think it’s critical for all those who are eligible to vote to register and make their voice heard. No matter your political persuasion,” Armbrust said. “You just need to be active and engaged constituents in the community.”

He noted that the majority of families attending this school are Spanish-speaking and face both language barriers, and in many cases, have never registered to vote previously.

Austin Achieve parent and employee Rafael Coquis explained that he learned about voter registration through outreach to staff members and was able to get registered on campus. This November will be his first time voting in a presidential election.

“I decided to register because I feel like everyone should have a say in this election,” he said. “I think everyone should do it.”

Coquis said he has also been speaking with family members, trying to get them registered as well.

Online and in-person efforts

Valerie Salinas-Davis, the president-elect for the League of Women Voters of the Austin Area, explained that many of the league’s efforts to get people registered to vote this year have been carried out online — specifically through social media.

LWV AA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps with voter education and outreach.

They are actually carrying out four “drive-thru” voter registration events over the next two weeks as part of National Voter Registration Day.

The organization will have representatives at the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane location doing curbside voter registration on Sept. 28 and 29 from noon to 7 pm.

The LWV Volunteer Deputy Registrars present outside the theater can register people from Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, and Caldwell counties. Voters can also submit mail-in-ballot applications at these times, LWV AA said.

The group is also working on a new online outreach effort which they hope will be ready by the end of the week.

The design which the League of Women Voters of the Austin Area is working to install a temporary, vinyl mural for at Jo’s Coffee on South Congress as part of a voter outreach effort (LWV)

LWV AA has partnered with Jo’s Coffee to drum up attention for voting through the often-photographed “I love you so much” mural on the side of the South Congress Avenue Jo’s location.

The plan is to get a vinyl, temporary covering for that mural so that it reads “I love voting so much.”

Salinas-Davis noted that Jo’s Coffee actually approached LWV AA to offer support with this project.

“They have been excellent they are big voter education advocates,” she said.

Alison Marlborough, Marketing Manager at Jo’s Coffee’s Bunkhouse Group, explained that their group has created an election resource website as well. For the past weekend, the upcoming weekend, and on Ocober 3 and 4, Bunkhouse Group plans to have representatives at the Jo’s Coffeee South Congress Aveneue location as well asa the 2nd Street location from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. registering people to vote. They have partnered with Topo Chico to offer free Topo Chico to those who register to vote at those locations.

“For obvious reasons this year is insane and we want to make sure we do our part in getting the message out to vote since we do have a platform to do so,” Marlborough said.

Salinas-Davis said her organization is working on a corresponding website which people will be directed to as they take their photographs in front of the temporary mural.

She believes this kind of outreach is especially important now with a presidential election on the ballot as well as transportation measures and Austin City Council races.

“There’s a lot of misinformation going on around voting,” Salinas-Davis explained, noting that LWV AA is trying to use tools like social media and this mural campaign to reach people in new ways and cut through the misinformation.

In neighboring communities

To the south of Austin in San Marcos, Hays County election administrators went to Texas State University to register students to vote. The election officials also helped students check where they are registered to vote and how to request a ballot.

Beyond National Voter Registration Day

This push to get people registered extends past National Voter Registration Day itself, KXAN has also reported on efforts from local groups such as Austin Texas Musicians who have been tabling over the weekends at patios to get people registered. This group plans to be back out at Radio Coffee & Beer helping people get registered Friday through Sunday from 2 p.m. until dusk for the next two weekends as well.

Pat Buchta and Scott Strickland of the advocacy nonprofit Austin Texas Musicians set up a table at Radio Coffee & Beer to help register people to vote (KXAN/Alyssa Goard)

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