A record 15.79M Texans are registered to vote, according to the Secretary of State’s office, which released voter registration totals by counties today (Friday). The number of registered voters increased 3.6% since the March primary, as at least 544K Texans registered.

The largest percent increases in voter registration since March occurred in Hays (10.2%), Brazos Co. (8.8%), Nacogdoches (6.3%), Comal (5.8%), Travis (5.4%), Collin (5.2%), Williamson (5.1%) and Bell (5.0%) Cos. Voter registration numbers increased in all but 15 counties. Other large counties experiencing increases at a greater rate than the state include Denton (4.7%), Montgomery (4.2%), Fort Bend (4.1%), Dallas (4.0%), El Paso (3.7%), Harris (3.6%).

About 87% of the estimated voting-eligible population is registered. An estimated 2.28M Texans are eligible to vote but did not register, making this the 10th straight year that more than 2M eligible Texans were not registered to vote. Since 2008, the estimated voting-eligible population has increased by 3.14M, but the number of registered voters increased by just 2.21M.

One of the reasons is the annual purging of some voter registrations after November general elections. Section 16.032, Election Code, provides that “suspense voter registrations” will be canceled following the second even-year November general election for which they do not cast a ballot or otherwise update their registrations. Voters go onto the “suspense list” when their renewal certificates are returned as undeliverable.

For example, the number of registered voters heading into the 2008 general election was 13.58M. The following January, the number of registered voters shrank to 12.79M, which is fewer than the number of people registered for the 2004 general election. On average, the number of registered voters in Texas in the January following an even-year general election is 500K less than for that even-year election. Put another way, at least 2.5M voter registrations have been canceled since November 2008.

Registrations are also canceled because a voter dies, moves to another county (or state) or is convicted of a felony, so the suspense voter cancellations are not the only factor that can drive voter registration figures downward.

Since November 2014, the number of voter registrations has increased by 1.76M. This could mean significantly more votes will be cast in this year’s mid-term election than in 2014. It could also mean that a record number of Texans will sit this election out. Four years ago, nearly 12M Texans – 9.3M registered voters and 2.7M who didn’t register – sat out the mid-term election. Texas ranked dead last in the nation in voter turnout that year.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC