January 13, 2020/Media

2020 Series: Let’s Register Texans to Vote

Texas Democrats 2020 Series is a multi-part look on Texas Democrats’ path to victory in 2020. In today’s post, we look at Texas’ rapidly growing electorate and how we’re going to get more Texans registered to vote.

Texas is the biggest battleground state in the country.

The rapidly emerging Democratic coalition in Texas has set the stage for historic Democratic gains at the ballot box. In order to close the statewide gap and win in 2020, we must register and engage a new electorate that is more progressive and represents the diversity of our great state.

Texas Democrats are building state party infrastructure unprecedented in its capacity and momentum — and we’re undertaking the most expansive voter registration program in our party’s history. We have been working diligently to register more Texas voters ahead of the 2020 election and we are thrilled to share our voter registration plans with you today.

Looking forward to 2020, there remain 2,600,000 unregistered voters in Texas who are likely to vote Democratic, if registered.

During the 2018 midterm elections, thanks to our voter registration initiatives, we helped 133,000 Democratic Texans register shortly before the registration deadline — and 120,000 of those who registered, voted. These efforts and successes of registering 133,000 voters represent a high watermark among progressive efforts and surpass any Republican effort.

These investments had a monumental impact and contributed to — and in some cases equaled — the margin of victory in congressional and legislative districts that flipped from Republican to Democrat.

This year offers even greater potential to add more Democrats to the rolls. Looking ahead to the October deadline, the Texas Democratic Party is focused on registering a share of the estimated 2,600,000 Texans who are likely to vote Democratic if they register to vote.

Through the shifting demographics in Texas, amplified by Texas Democrats’ aggressive voter registration initiatives, we anticipate the voter rolls will swell to upwards of 18,000,000 registered voters in 2020.

Texas Democrats have been putting in the work to ensure November 2020 marks a new era in Texas politics — one where every single Democrat is ready, able and mobilized to vote. But these trends didn’t just start in 2018. A look at how voter registration has changed over the past decade reveals more Texans have been registering. One thing we know is that most new voters are voting for Democrats.

2020 Data

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According to an independent analysis by TargetSmart, “2,644,532 people have registered to vote in Texas” since the 2016 Election Day and “1,660,173 of those new voters are people of color and/or under the age of 25. Trump carried the state by 807,179 votes.”

These recently registered voters and those we register this cycle are primed and ready to be mobilized to the polls. Turnout is highly expected to increase in 2020, not only because turnout normally surges in presidential elections compared to midterms, but also due to the polarizing nature of the Trump presidency.

Where are potential new Democratic voters?

There are Democrats to register in most of Texas’ 8,000+ precincts — but to maximize our pick-ups this November, Texas Democrats are adopting targeted strategies to grow the Texas electorate. 

For instance, there is a concentration of unregistered voters in target State House districts, including 210,000 potential new Democrats in 12 districts that flipped in 2018. Additionally, there are 315,000 potential new Democrats in 18 targeted State House districts for 2020.

At the congressional level, we estimate there are 495,000 potential new Democrats in the eight DCCC-targeted districts. In order to turn Texas blue up and down the ballot, we’re strategically ramping up our voter registration efforts to ensure we flip these districts come November.

Engaging African American, Asian American, and Latinx constituencies

Our African American, Asian American, and Latinx communities represent a significant portion of unregistered voters in Texas. There are also major opportunities to register and expand participation among the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities.

Texas Democrats are recruiting and training constituency organizers tasked with mobilizing these communities and strategically spearheading voter registration efforts among these likely Democratic voters. We will talk more about our constituency organizing programs below.

Turning Out Young Voters

Texas Democrats know that turning out the youth vote will be critical to our success in 2020. There are 1,600+ high schools in Texas with students who are turning 18. Additionally, there are 600+ colleges, community colleges, and trade schools in Texas with unregistered students. The Texas Democratic Party is working alongside fellow Democratic organizations to ensure these young voters are pinpointed for voter registration and mobilization.

How We’re Going to Register More Voters

The Texas Democratic Party works diligently to ensure that all eligible Texans are registered and energized to turn out and vote. We’re making unprecedented investments in voter registration in order to maximize on the unparalleled enthusiasm amongst Democrats in Texas. In order to engage with as many unregistered Texans as possible, Texas Democrats are launching and expanding various strategies that will set the stage for a blue Texas. 

Data-driven strategies

Early, major investments in data programs are key to turning out new and low propensity voters. The Texas Democratic Party is growing the data team significantly in order to capture and identify new registrants earlier. We are building machine-learning-based models to quickly identify the partisanship-leaning of new and low propensity voters so that campaigns can mobilize Democratic voters. Additionally, we are hiring support staff to embed directly with campaigns to support local organizing efforts.

Registering voters in person

In order to win the White House, take out John Cornyn, send more Texas Democrats to Congress, flip the Texas House, and elect hundreds of local Democrats across the state, Texas Democrats are spearheading an expansive, statewide grassroots initiative to reach every part of our growing Democratic movement. 

We are going to have 1,000 field organizers and canvassers on the ground in 2020. We are proactively chasing voter registration forms sent to new Texas residents, knocking on the doors of Texans who need to get registered, partnering with organizations doing high school and college campus organizing, and developing and fostering a culture of registration amongst Texans.

We have hired dedicated staff to engage every part of our Democratic coalition — including our AAPI, African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ+, youth, and Disability communities — and to narrow the gap in rural committees. Texas Democrats’ constituency organizers are identifying the highest impact means to reach the most people. They’re reaching out to small businesses, faith groups, chambers of commerce, and community leaders with strong networks — enlisting and mobilizing advocates for voter registration and participation among within each community. 

“Hotspot” registration, or registration drives at public venues where potential Democratic voters gather, is one of the most common registration tactics. This is a tried and true method, and our team will continue to train and mobilize volunteers in every corner of the state in using these best practices. But Texas Democrats are also gearing up to reach our voters directly where they live. 

In the coming weeks, we will announce significant partnerships and investments in door-to-door registration. First, a mobile toolkit that empowers volunteers to easily find, canvass, and efficiently register potential new Democrats. And soon, we’ll deploy our first round of field staff to neighborhoods in targeted districts with the most Democrats to register.

If you’re looking to join our registration teams, the first step is becoming a volunteer deputy registrar. Volunteer deputy registrars are responsible for officially registering voters in the State of Texas. Appointed by county voter registrars, deputy registrars are tasked with helping increase voter registration across our great state. To learn more about becoming a Volunteer Deputy Registrar, visit the Secretary of State’s website and make sure you’ve signed up to volunteer with the Texas Democratic Party for registration opportunities.

Adopting a Digital Approach to Voter Registration

Through our online hub for expanding and protecting the vote — MyTexasVotes.com — Texans can register to vote, learn more about voting, find their polling place, print their Democratic ballot, report any challenges while voting, and more. We must amplify efforts to reach voters who may be unfamiliar with their voting options. 

Thanks to our partnership with Register2Vote, eligible Texans can sign up to register at MyTexasVotes.com and receive a pre-filled application in the mail with a stamped envelope addressed to their local elections office. We’re equipping the thousands of candidates, local parties, precinct chairs, and partners to use their online networks to spur more registration, and we are amplifying their efforts by investing in the aggressive digital promotion of this one-stop-shop for all things related to voting.

Registering voters by mail

We’re making it easier to register to vote and challenging the hurdles erected by Republicans to make it harder to vote. Republicans know that the only way they continue to win elections is through suppressing the vote because when more people vote, Democrats win. 

One big way that we’re engaging with unregistered Texans is through voter registration by mail. The Texas Democratic Party is gearing up to mail hundreds of thousands of voter registration applications to unregistered voters across the state. Once we’ve sent the registration cards, we follow-up with texts, calls, and knocks, to guarantee these Democratic Texans are on track to vote. 

This program is a priority for Texas Democrats; voter registration is the first critical step on the path to victory for flipping our state. By registering and mobilizing this significant chunk of unregistered Texans, Texas Democrats will be that much closer to turning Texas blue up and down the ballot. 

Maintaining free and fair elections is crucial in a democracy, which is why there are few things more important than the sanctity of the vote. When we amplify our voices at the ballot box, we take ownership of our collective future as Texans, and as Americans. 

This leads us into our next major voter expansion project:

Stopping Republican Voter Suppression

It’s no secret that Texas Republicans actively work to suppress voting access — and we will fight back every one of their attempts to silence the voices of Texans who have registered or are trying to register. 

Texas Democrats set into motion a successful 2020 election when we stopped former Secretary of State David Whitley from threatening the voting rights of thousands of Texans. When Whitley unsuccessfully attempted to purge 100,000 voters from the registration rolls, through fabricated claims of noncitizens voting, it was Texas Senate Democrats, the Texas Democratic Party, and voting rights activists who fought day in and day out to put an end to the corrupt Republican effort. Democrats in the Texas Senate kept a watchful eye on Republicans who sought to scare, confuse, and intimidate Texans from participating in their democracy. Their uncompromising will and determination led to the ouster of an anti-voter Secretary of State for the first time in memory and helped protect our right to vote. 

The right to vote remains under unprecedented attack. The Republican establishment in Texas has developed a systematic scheme to keep Texans of color from being heard and represented. Texas Democrats are fighting these attacks head-on and working harder than ever to protect and expand the vote, including by challenging these voter suppression efforts in court. 

In January 2020, The Texas Democratic Party, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed a lawsuit challenging an unconstitutional electronic signature ban spearheaded by the Texas Secretary of State. In an effort to make it harder to vote, the Texas Secretary of State urged counties to reject thousands of voter registration forms with electronic or imaged signatures, claiming they lacked the required original signatures. We’re challenging the ban in court because not only is it inconsistent with a federal court ruling that found no “legal impediment” to using electronic signatures, but it’s also an unconstitutional tool in the broader Republican effort to suppress voting access. 

Texas Democrats filed a motion in an ongoing lawsuit to force the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to comply with the National Voter Registration Act. DPS has failed to properly register voters who submit forms in person at DPS offices. Not only that, but DPS has aided Republicans’ illegal voter purge efforts. During the 18 months between September 2013 and February 2015, the Secretary of State’s Elections Division received more than 4,600 complaints from voters about voter registration practices at DPS. We have joined the fight against DPS for actively participating in Republican schemes to limit voting resources and make it harder for Texans to vote. 

The best and most lasting way to improve the lives of every Texan, especially the most marginalized among us, is to ensure continued access to the polls. We are actively fighting against Republican efforts to hinder voting access, because when we all vote, the better we all do. 

Voter Protection

Texas Democrats are launching a myriad of initiatives with the sole purpose of protecting the vote. In addition to the strategies outlined above, Texas Democrats are partnering with national organizations founded on the mission to protect voting access. We have a few more big announcements at the end of this month. Stay tuned!

In the coming week, we’re launching a year-round voter assistance hotline. Like MyTexasVotes.com, this resource ensures Texans have quick access to voting information and can flag any problems they may have related to voting. We have dedicated staff to answer any voter’s questions and make it easier for Texans to be heard. 

Investment and Conclusion

Democracy works better when more people vote, not less. To boost participation in a state as diverse as Texas, both in terms of our people and our geography, Texas Democrats know that there is no one-stop strategy. 

That’s why we’re coming together like never before to expand voter registration. We’re mobilizing our core supporters, and engaging new Texas residents. We’ve expanded our voter information hub, MyTexasVotes, to ensure every Texan has access to voting information. We’ve recruited and trained constituency organizers tasked with mobilizing and energizing every part of our Democratic coalition. We’re launching new partnerships to amplify our voter protection efforts. Texas Democrats are going to turn Texas blue up and down the ballot through our expansive, unparalleled voter registration initiatives. 

This is the fight of our generation. Help us close the statewide gap by donating to the Texas Democratic Party. When we as Democrats register ourselves, our friends, our families, and our neighbors, we will save our state, save our country, and save our planet.