National Voter Registration Day a chance to increase voting awareness in East Texas

“There are so many elections that are decided by very, very few votes, so every vote does count,” Stein said. “If you don’t vote and someone else doesn’t vote,
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:19 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 8:30 PM CDT

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Tuesday throughout Smith County volunteers and staff from the elections office were out helping register people to vote.

“Would you like to register to vote?”

This was the question of the day on National Voter Registration Day across Smith County.

The League of Women Voters of Tyler and Smith County was at Tyler Junior College this afternoon helping get people registered to vote.

“Most of the students here, because it’s a junior college, they are 18, 19 years old, this will be their first election and they haven’t registered to vote yet, or they’re not sure how to do it,” said Katie Owens, the league’s vice president of voter services. “So we want to push it on college campuses in particular so that they’re connected to the community and have the opportunity to register to vote.”

Meanwhile, folks on the Downtown Square were working to catch people who were passing through. David Stein is the chairman of Smith County Republican Party and said it’s important to get people registered who are eligible.

“There are so many elections that are decided by very, very few votes, so every vote does count,” Stein said. “If you don’t vote and someone else doesn’t vote, and someone else doesn’t vote and so forth, that’s when candidates get elected that may not represent the majority of the people in that jurisdiction.”

Owens said it’s been a challenge the past two years to get out into the community and register people.

“Certainly the past two years have been difficult with COVID and not being able to actually be out and be present in the community as much. This year it’s a lot different because we are here, in front of people, face-to-face,” she said.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization and Owens said they make sure that they’re not pressuring students or saying something about a particular political party, but simply empowering voters.

“The League of Women Voters’ mission is empowering voters and defending democracy. One way that we do that is by making sure people are registered to vote because that’s the first step in empowering voters,” Owens said. “So we want to do that and then we’ll focus on voter education leading up to the election.”

The process was quick for those who stopped by.

“You just need your name, address, form of identification, and then we’ll get the forms down to the elections office, you’ll get a card in the mail which will have your information and then you’re eligible to vote,” Stein said. “The biggest issue is, if you don’t register, you can’t vote. If you don’t vote, you’ve lost your voice to have a place.”

The final day to register to vote in person in Texas is October 11. If you register by mail, it must also be postmarked by October 11.

You can visit your local county elections office to register or online at votetexas.org and print out the form and mail it in.