Texas ranks last in voter turnout

Voter registration for the Texas midterm election ends on October 9. (Image: Travis County Voter Registration Division)

Voter turnout in Texas is the worst in the nation. A new study by the Washington Post found that Texas came in dead last for voting in midterm elections.

In 2014, 74-percent of voting-aged Texans registered to vote. But only a quarter, 28 percent, showed up at the polls. The numbers are similar for midterm elections in 2006 and 2010.

“What will it take to have voters in this county or in this state actually bother?” asked Chris Davis, Elections Administrator for Williamson County. “Lots and lots of voters are registered and they've been registered for quite a while but they just never bother to vote.”

To help get Texas out of last place, Williamson County is taking stacks of voter registration applications to area high schools.

“We feel that if they vote once they'll continue to vote again and again throughout their lives,” said Davis.

Travis County is also targeting 18 to 25-year-olds. The state has a high percentage of young people and they vote less than any other age group.

“So, they can either be on the sidelines or they can be in the game,” said Bruce Elfant, Voter Registrar for Travis County.

A PSA contest is one of several ways that Travis County is trying to increase interest in voting. The competition has teens talking to teens about why casting a ballot matters.

“They've got the most at stake,” said Elfant.

In addition to the PSAs, Elfant has his own message that he often tells young people.

“Why do you think that your Congressman is so much more concerned about the state of Social Security than they are tuition rates? I don't know. The answer is that older people vote more. If younger people voted more I bet your election officials would care more about tuition,” said Elfant.

The first step in getting more Texans to the polls is getting them registered to vote. The deadline to do that in Texas is on October 9th.

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