Voter registration in Texas is taking a nosedive, new data shows

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Texas and other states are suffering from a decline in newly registered voters, data collected by the Center for Election Innovation & Research finds.

Researchers compiled official new voter registration numbers for the spring of 2020, between January and April. The data shows that in Texas voter registration this year is worse off than compared to 2016.

Center for Election Innovation & Research

The phenomenon was also observed in eleven other states, including California and Arizona. 

“It is likely that much of the decline in new voter registrations can be attributed to distancing and closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote researchers in their report. “Department of Motor Vehicle closures, limited in-person interactions, and a halt to large public gatherings have curbed traditional sources of registration such as motor voter and get-out-the-vote registration drives.”

In March, Gov. Greg Abbott closed Texas drivers license offices for a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under federal law, anyone can register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver’s license. Texas is one of eleven states that still does not offer online voter registration, although states that do offer online voter registration have still seen a steep decline in newly registered voters. 

“As DMV transactions have declined, registrations have dwindled,” the report continued. “The plummet in new voter registrations is especially troubling in states which have implemented automatic voter registration (AVR) systems since 2016 (including California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, and Maryland). Under AVR, eligible voters are automatically registered at the DMV unless they ‘opt-out.’ This practice has added millions of eligible Americans to their states’ voter rolls in recent years and should have led to this year’s new voter registrations overshadowing those of 2016.”

Only 19 states, not including Texas, have automatic voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

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