While voter turnout continues to be a work in progress in Travis County, voter registration is actually making progress — thanks to volunteers.
On January 15, the Travis County Tax Office recognized 48 county residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations at the Celebration of Democracy, an event that kicked off the 50th anniversary year of the Voting Rights Act, at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.
Top honors went to Max Patterson, who was named 2014 Volunteer Deputy Registrar of the Year for registering 601 voters. Mary Patrick was named 2014 Volunteer of the Year for coordinating Volunteer Deputy Registrar trainings for 88 consecutive weeks at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin.
Top organization honors went to Battleground Texas for its 269 volunteers who registered 5,226 new Travis County voters, the most of any organization in the county, and the First Unitarian Universalist Church for hosting the 88 Volunteer Deputy Registrar trainings.
Other businesses and organizations recognized at the event for their contributions to voter registration efforts included: ThunderCloud Subs, Austin Public Library, Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Foundation Communities, United States Postal Service, H-E-B, Pflugerville Independent School District, Austin Community College, Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, University of Texas’ “Hook the Vote,” Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Music People and the Austin-area League of Women Voters.
“I am proud to say that…during this last two-year election cycle, 4,000 of you helped add a record 65,000 citizens to the voter rolls,” says Bruce Elfant, Travis County tax assessor-collector and voter registrar.
According to Elfant, 83 percent of people old enough to vote in Travis County are currently registered.
“By the time we vote in the 2016 presidential election it is my goal that 90 percent of Travis County citizens will be registered to vote,” Elfant says. “I will be asking school officials, apartment managers and title company representatives to help register voters.
“I am hopeful that the Texas Legislature will authorize Texans to join 24 other states that have implemented online voter registration which is more secure, cost effective and more convenient,” he adds.
More than 300 volunteer deputy registrars were sworn in at the event at the January 15 event. Interested in becoming a Travis County Volunteer Deputy Registrar? Find more information on Volunteer Deputy Registrars here.