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Voter registration may not reach 2004 levels in Harris County

Voter registration may be at an all-time high statewide, but here in Harris County we’ll be lucky to match 2004 totals.

Ahead of Monday’s registration deadline, about 1,912,000 citizens were on the voter roll as of Friday, county officials said. The number will grow as registrations continue through the weekend and mail postmarked by Monday arrives next week.

But the county must add 30,000 new eligible voters just to reach the 2004 level, and Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, the county voter registrar, acknowledged a strong chance that the sign-ups will go no higher than the figure from four years ago.

Bettencourt predicted at midyear that registrations in the sprawling county would break the 2 million mark for the first time as groups such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and the League of Women Voters mounted registration drives.

Texas has already set a record of 13.2 million voters qualified to cast ballots in next month’s election or early voting this month, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. The previous high was almost 13.1 million.

But unlike in past elections years, Bettencourt said, registration efforts are producing an exceptionally high number of voters who are re-registering to update their address and a relatively low number of people who have never registered before.

So despite new high-water marks being set in places like Hidalgo, Travis, and El Paso Counties, Harris County, which has certainly seen its share of population growth, is stagnant. Why is that? I think part of the answer is in that last paragraph, and part of it can be seen in an earlier story. From the Chron in July:

For starters, 2 million citizens older than 17, in a county of roughly 4 million people, would represent only meager growth from the last presidential election here. The 2004 roll fell only 60,000 shy of 2 million.

On the other hand, the roll dropped to 1.8 million a year ago, due in part to Bettencourt’s groundbreaking efforts under state and federal law to remove outmoded or improper registrations.

In other words, we started out 150,000 voter registrations in the hole. When you think of it in those terms, it’s amazing we are where we are now.

One of the challenges facing the county registrar’s office is the Houston area population’s apparent wanderlust. Half of the residents here rent their dwellings, according to the U.S. Census. Many switch locations every few months or years.

If those voters fail to update their registrations with new addresses, under federal law they are purged from the voter roll after two federal elections. In the meantime, they may be told at the voting place in their new neighborhood that they must return to their old neighborhood to vote.

Bettencourt voluntarily pursues voters to update their registrations after they move from one Harris County location to another. Using driver’s license address changes and other government records in a pioneering project, his staff sends letters to such voters — about 100,000 every summer — encouraging them to update their voter registrations.

As I hear it, those notices go to people’s old addresses, not to their new addresses, so it’s hard to say how effective that project is. Regardless, just having to get all these people updated puts a huge strain on volunteer efforts. So I ask again: Why is it so different in Harris? Is the so-called “wanderlust” cited that much greater here than elsewhere?

So with all that in mind, let’s return to the question of projecting turnout, both in Harris County and statewide. 1.2 million voters may well be greater than 60% turnout here – at 1,912,000 registrations, it would be 62.8%, and at 1.94 million, the same as 2004, it would be 61.9%. Given Bettencourt’s assertions that the vast majority of primary voters were people who had voted before, it seems reasonable to think that the already-registered would participate at a higher than usual level. I feel less comfortable projecting statewide turnout from this, so I’ll leave any further number crunching to you.

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4 Comments

  1. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    http://www.canivote.org/

    http://www.tax.co.harris.tx.us/voter/voter.asp

    1. Registration Deadlines Closing Fast — Let Everyone Know
    Published Book page by Dan Ashby
    [ http://electiondefensealliance.org/registration_deadlines08 ]

    ……………

    From John Gideon:
    http://www.markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/

    We have two important recommendations. Please pass this email on to your distribution lists.

    Check your voter registration. For months, we have been recommending that everyone check to make sure they are registered to vote. It has recently come to light that 19 states are not following federal law; they are purging voters close to the election.

    These states are: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington.

    But even if you live in some other state, please check your
    registration status right now – if you can. Otherwise, check on Monday. We have created a page to assist you. It’s here:
    http://www.votersunite.org/info/RegInfo.asp

    If you have been wrongly purged from the voter rolls, don’t simply register again. Call your county election official to say you were wrongly purged and should be placed back on the rolls. If you do not get satisfaction, contact your state election officials. If you still have problems, let us know.

    Don’t vote straight-party. Problems abound with straight-party voting – on electronic voting machines and on paper ballots. We highly recommend that, if you want to vote for the same party across all races, vote for each individual person separately, and don’t mark any
    “straight-party” choice at all. See today’s “Featured” article for a good reason why straight-party voting is not a good idea.

    Featured – NM: Santa Fe County – Big Presidential Vote Count Error
    Found and Fixed in New Mexico
    http://www.alternet.org/story/101567/

    National: Opinion – Foreclosures and the Right to Vote
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/opinion/05sun2.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    National: Will Dress Code Affect Your Right To Vote?
    Battles Over Voter Signups, Residency And Polling Place Etiquette May
    Block Your Ballot
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/10/04/politics/main4501531.shtml

    …………….

  2. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081002/REVIEWS/810049997

    “That the world got the official Ohio election results from a website made by the same web designer smearing Bush’s opponent [i.e., by Mike Connell, the man who launched the Swift Boat attacks] wasn’t the only suspect thing in election night. The web servers for the election results in Ohio were suddenly moved in the middle of the night…from Ohio to Tennessee. The entire business of reporting these numbers on the web, where media and the rest of America take them from, was being run by this far right partisan web company.” The same company hosted Bush’s own web site, and gop.com, ohiogop.com, newt.com and so on.

    And, Mike Connell, is now in charge of running McCain’s computers, programs, and websites this election, as well as, currently and all along in charge of the firewall and emails of both the Democratic Senate and House.

  3. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    http://markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/2008/10/daily-voting-news-for-10208.html

    “Daily Voting News” for 10/2/08 “Daily Voting News” for 10/2/08

    Once again, the machines in Palm Beach County are all set to block the vote in South Florida, and in DC—all Democratic votes, as usual.

    With Election Day one month away, it’s time for Democrats to stop denying that there’s any problem here, and to force the issue into center stage, where it belongs.

    Election theft depends on TWO kinds of activity: vote suppression and election fraud. So far many groups have done a great job trying to fight back against the former, and we have to keep that effort going, and expand it. But we can’t do ONLY that, while leaving the machines alone.

    So spread the word about the revelations of Stephen Spoonamore
    (http://www.rovecybergate.com), and do whatever else you can to make Americans aware.

    Such hard truths will NOT suppress the Democratic vote, but are far likelier to motivate an even larger turnout, as peope understand that a big turnout will make it that much harder to pull off another theft. Also, people tend to feel protective of their votes, and so, confronted with the facts about Diebold/Premier, ES&S et al., feel driven to affirm that precious right of theirs.

    This is, in part, why there was such a spate of Democratic victories in 2006. For two months prior to that Election Day, the MSM did quite a lot about the insecurities and defects in the e-voting machines—and did it very irresponsibly, treating the machines’ apparent failures as mere “glitches,” rather than as part of a deliberate strategy of fraud by the Republicans.

    If any sort of coverage might have lowered the turnout, it was that pre-election coverage, which made voting seem as iffy as, say, on-line gambling; and yet that year saw the largest off-year turnout since 1970. (It was actually far larger, since there were countless voters who were told that they weren’t registered, and countless others whose votes were thrown away for different reasons.)

    In a democracy, in any case, there’s no excuse for keeping people in the dark. The time has come for us to face the problem of election fraud as well as vote suppression, and deal with it, as anyone who calls himself a democrat or a republican must do.

    ……..

    http://www.opednews.com/maxwrite/linkframe.php?linkid=71452

    Exclusive Interview With Former Diebold Contractor
    Wednesday, 1 October 2008, 3:01 pm
    Opinion: Velvet Revolution

    10/1/08

    Former Diebold Contractor Blows The Whistle On Election Manipulations

    By Velvet Revolution’s Election Protection Strike Force, Velvet Revolution Blog
    VR has an exclusive interview with former Diebold contractor Chris Hood that talks about many disturbing actions by Diebold during prior elections, including illegal, uncertified and unreported patches, and improper feeding of tabulation results by Diebold Chief Bob Urosevitch. This interview was prepared for a major news program special that was supposed to air two weeks before the 2006 midterm election. At the last moment, however, the special was killed by the corporate media. Check out this important ten minute interview.

    ……………………

    http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/

    The Spoonamore Revelations: The Rig is In to Steal 2008

    Credits: Introduction below from Mark Crispin Miller’s blog, News from Underground. Investigation and videos by Velvet Revolution.

    Here, in this shattering new interview, Stephen Spoonamore goes into harrowing detail about the Bush regime’s election fraud, past, present and–if we don’t spread the word right now–to come. Since he’s the only whistle-blower out there who knows the perps themselves, and how they operate, we have to send this new piece far and wide.

    Here Spoon tells us that McBush’s team–i.e., Karl Rove and his henchpersons–have their plan in place to steal this next election: by 51.2% of the popular vote, and three electoral votes.

    He also talks about the major role played by the Christianist far right in the electronic rigging of the vote.

    And he defines our electronic voting system as a major threat to US national security, calling for it to be junked ASAP, in favor of hand-counted paper ballots.
    Since Spoon is a Republican and erstwhile McCain supporter, as well as a noted specialist in nosing out computer fraud, his testimony is essential–not only for its expertise, but, no less, for the impact that his views will surely have on those Republicans who have been loath to see what Bush Co. has done to our election system.

    That whole story’s just about to break . . . starting with today’s news on a breakthrough in the lawsuit that Spoon’s testimony has enabled

    ……………

  4. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    http://www.velvetrevolution.us/

    Our job does not stop with simply exposing the truth. We need to make sure that these same people are not able to manipulate the upcoming presidential election. Why are these people now working for John McCain?

    snip

    We want to make sure that McCain knows exactly what these people have done and hold him to his promise of a clean election.

    snip

    http://www.velvetrevolution.us/
    …………..

    http://www.markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    FOX/GOP claim Obama’s going to steal the race!

    As usual, the fraudsters are accusing their own victims of attempted fraud—a sly projective tactic that persuades a lot of people on the right, although it’s utterly preposterous.

    This sort of thing would fail completely—would, in fact, be wholly inconceivable—if the Democrats had not consistently refused to call a spade a spade, but had instead addressed BushCo’s election theft from the beginning.

    Because they have refused to do so, the situation is beyond absurd, as the only party that is willing to address the problem of election fraud, etc., is the one that’s been committing it. And we’ll hear plenty more of such crapola if Obama’s lead continues to grow larger.

    All the more reason, then, for his surrogates to start to recognize the truth, and learn the facts, and talk about them loud and clear.

    …………

    Ask Obama to demand paper ballots hand counted and if he denies the problems and the solutions then

    Impeach Bush
    http://impeachment.kucinich.us/

    Bush Step Down

    Al Gore and John Kerry Step Up

    And, finally assume your true wins so that the Economy, Constitution, Democracy, Military and Climate are repaired in time to save us all.