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On Thursday, Carlos H. Cascos, the Texas secretary of state, reported that 15 million Texans are now registered to vote, an all-time high for a state that routinely ranks near the bottom for voter turnout.
As of Thursday morning, 15,015,700 Texans are registered to vote, which constitutes about 78 percent of the state’s total voting age population, according to a news release from Cascos’ office. The estimate for the entire voting-age population is about 19.3 million voters, meaning there are approximately 4 million Texans who can cast a ballot if only they’d get on the rolls. To put that in perspective, it’s as if the entire population of Houston, the state’s largest city, decided to sit out an election – and then double that effect.
“The number will likely increase a bit as last-minute applications continue to be processed during the next few days,” according to Cascos' office, citing the Oct. 11 deadline to register before the November election.
Let’s look at the historical increases behind the new numbers. The agency said Texas had 13.6 million registered voters, or 75 percent, during the 2012 presidential election. In 2008, that number stood at 13.5 million, or 77 percent.
So, in those four years – bookmarked by a competitive Democratic presidential primary and a fierce attempt to make President Obama a one-term chief executive – only about 71,000 new registrants joined the process. Consider it in this context now, considering, of course, that people turn 18 years old every day: From 2012 to today, the state saw an increase of 1.3 million registered voters.
A lot can happen in four years, to say the least, especially in a state whose booming population tracks younger and less white by the second. So, what accounts for the astronomical growth this time around? For one, the level of attention this presidential race has attracted among voters is unprecedented.
- Record 15 million Texans registered to vote.
And a caution: Analysis: High Voter Registration Figures Are Great — Sometimes.
Voter registration, however healthy it might be, isn’t a good indicator of voter turnout. It has varied widely in presidential elections over the last 40 years in Texas, and as you might expect, voter turnout — as a percentage of registered voters — has varied widely, too.