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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Elfant explains Text2Register tool
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 by Jo Clifton
Bruce Elfant, who serves as Travis County voter registrar in addition to his duties as tax assessor-collector, has a strong record on getting county residents registered to vote. Despite the pandemic, the county has 832,797 registered voters. “We are at 95.1 percent, the highest of any county in Texas,” Elfant said. Still, Covid-19 has made it more difficult to register voters. Volunteer deputy registrars are also naturally disinclined to contact strangers and ask them to register as they have in the past. One solution for this problem is Text2Register, a service that anyone with a cell phone can use. Elfant said prospective voters and those who have moved since registering to vote can use the program, which sends the voter’s information to Elfant’s office, where it is automatically entered into the voter registration rolls. Elfant said his office used a similar program in 2016, but his employees had to manually enter all the information. Once the office receives the data, it will send a form to the new voter. That person will sign the form and return it to Elfant’s office and after that will receive a voter registration card. Elfant criticized Texas lawmakers for preventing people from registering to vote online, adding that 40 other states allow it. According to Elfant, there is still work to do registering voters for the November election. Despite the level of participation, tens of thousands of people in Travis County either need to register for the first time or change their registration to their current address. Elfant plans to hold a virtual news conference today at 10 a.m. to explain how the contactless Text2Register system works.
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