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State complies with motor voter law, allowing Texans to register to vote online for first time This article has
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Texans are now allowed to simultaneously register to vote online when updating their driver’s license information

AUSTIN — Less than two weeks before the voter registration deadline, Texans for the first time can register to vote online, but only while updating their driver’s licenses.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio gave the state a Sept. 23 deadline after ordering the Department of Public Safety to comply with the federal motor voter law. That law, the National Voter Registration Act, requires states to allow residents to simultaneously register to vote when applying for, renewing or filing a change of address for their driver’s license. Texans were only allowed to do so in person until now.

On Wednesday — the deadline set by Garcia — Texas updated its online system to allow Texans to register to vote online, but only while updating their licenses, the Texas Tribune first reported.

“This is a voting rights victory for all Texans,” the president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, Mimi Marziani, said in a statement. “It’s a particular victory for younger Texans and poorer Texans who on average change address more often.”

Less than two weeks until the voter registration deadline, motor voter advocates hope this update will boost voter turnout in 2020 and future elections.

Currently, 40 states offer online registration, and Oklahoma is on its way after passing legislation. Texas, which still limits the practice to those updating their licenses, remains one of the nine states that do not offer full online voter registration.

“Now that the state has put the technological systems in place for voters to register online through a government site, this is a flashing green light for the Legislature to finally bring Texas in line with 40 other states across the country and pass online voter registration,” Marziani said.

Nearly 2 million people in the state update their information on the DPS online portal, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. But, until now, the portal would redirect them to another website where the user would have to print out a registration form, fill it out and then send it to their county registrar.

For one of the plaintiffs, Jarrod Stringer, the second lawsuit was the charm after his first case was tossed by a federal court of appeals on a technicality. After moving back to San Antonio in 2014, Stringer updated his driver’s license where he was given the option to re-register to vote online. But after waiting in line at an early voting place in San Antonio, he realized he was not on the voter roll.

“It’s traumatic when you can’t vote. It’s implicitly saying, ‘You don’t have a voice. You can’t participate in change,’” Stringer said in applauding the change. “The representation of the people in the state of Texas is more fair today than it was two weeks ago. Part of what it means to be a citizen is to vote without duress. It’s a huge deal.”

Alex Briseno. Alex Briseño is covering politics in Austin for The Dallas Morning News. He was born in Seguin, Texas, and is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. During his time at UT, Alex interned at Sports Illustrated, freelanced for newspapers across the state and spent four years at the student newspaper, The Daily Texan.

alexbriseno9898@gmail.com @alex__briseno

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