Texas' historic voter registration surge should scare Ted Cruz

Is that why more than 2,000 people in Texas had their new voters' registration applications recently rejected?

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 8, 2018 12:44PM (EDT)

Ted Cruz (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Ted Cruz (AP/Andrew Harnik)

As Texas voters attempt to register in droves for the high stakes election between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a new report reveals that thousands of voters are having their registration forms unfairly rejected.

Texas saw an increase in registered voters by 11 percent since the last midterm election, as of September 25, NBC affiliate in Austin KXAN reported. But more than 2,000 people in Texas had their voters’ registration applications recently rejected by the Texas Secretary of State, as the San Antonio Express-News reported:

More than 2,000 potential voters in Texas had their voters’ registration applications unfairly rejected by the Texas Secretary of State, a national advocacy group said Wednesday.

Those voters will be barred from voting on Nov. 6 unless they re-submit updated applications with new signatures on them, according to the Secretary of State’s office, which will send affected voters the paperwork by mail. It must be resubmitted to the state within 10 days.

Vote.org, a nonpartisan group, said it helped 2,400 Texans from Dallas, Bexar, Cameron and Travis counties submit voter registration applications that use digital photographs of their signatures.

Officials from the Texas Secretary of State’s office argued that they rejected the applications because they did not include a handwritten signature, although lawyers for Vote.org insist that this isn't actually a requirement. The Express-News said that the election law itself is "not clear" as to whether a handwritten signature is necessary because it requires voter registration forms to be "submitted by personal delivery, by mail, or by telephonic facsimile machine" as well as "in writing and signed by the applicant."

READ MORE: Beto O'Rourke & Martin O'Malley: the dark horse ticket that could beat Trump in 2020

It is also unclear whether the Texas Republican Party has any reason to worry about a potential influx of pro-O'Rourke, anti-Cruz voters.

"To borrow a phrase from a cult film classic, the problem with young voters is we get older and they stay the same age," Dallas Morning News reporter James Barragán observed during an interview on the State of Texas politics program. "You've got to keep reaching out to them and keep teaching them how to register to vote," he explained.

"It's a constant battle, and that's been a battle that's been difficult here in Texas," Barragán said.

This hasn't stopped O'Rourke from approaching the upcoming election from a "turn out as many voters as possible" point of view. The Valley Morning Star wrote a piece on how this is being done in the Rio Grande Valley.

In Hidalgo County, multiple municipal elections have been frauds. A woman bought votes in a 2012 Donna school board election with cash and cocaine, and was charged in federal court. Three years later, the Texas Attorney General filed 16 charges against a Weslaco city commissioner for voter fraud. And just Friday, a state district judge ruled Mission’s recent mayoral election void, also because of illegal voting allegations.

With perception of sham elections growing ever so common, voters can be turned off by the process. And a common thread in elections is voters think their ballot won’t make a difference. But with nearly 10 trips over the last year to the Valley once election day hits, O’Rourke is hoping to inspire a different thinking.

“It feels good,” O’Rourke said recently. “The energy in the Valley is palpable. I see it around the state, but the border, the Valley, has been as good as anywhere we’ve been.”

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2018 Midterm Elections Beto O’rourke Ted Cruz Texas Voting Rights