Secretary of State Rolando Pablos said a record 15.6M Texans are registered to vote. With two weeks left before the registration deadline, the number of registered voters is already more than 500K higher than the number registered for the 2016 general election and 1.6M more than for the 2014 general election. It is the second time since 2002 that more Texans will be registered to vote for the gubernatorial election than for the preceding presidential election.
As the state’s population continues to grow, we should expect new voter registration records to be set every year, but that has not always been the case. Fewer Texans were registered to vote in November 2010 compared to November 2008 and in November 2006 compared to November 2004. Registrations for odd-year November general elections have been below the previous even-year general election since 1997.
An estimated 18.1M Texans are eligible* to register to vote, an increase of 1.4M since 2014. Thus, voter registrations are outpacing the growth of the voting-eligible population, reversing the recent trend of failing to keep pace with it. Still, approximately 2.5M eligible Texans remain unregistered, a slight improvement over 2014, for which an estimated 2.6M eligible Texans were unregistered. The number of unregistered Texans climbed to 2.8M as of the March primary election.
Approximately 400K more Texans have registered to vote since the primary with two weeks left to register. In 2016, 863K Texans registered to vote between the primary and the general election. In 2014, 424K more Texans registered between the primary and the general election.
The largest increase in registered voters for a gubernatorial election over a preceding presidential election occurred in 1998, for which just short of 1M more Texans were registered to vote than for the 1996 presidential election. In 2014, the increase in voter registrations over the 2012 presidential election was less than 379K.
Greater numbers of registered voters do not necessarily translate into greater turnout. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of voter registrations increased by 756K, but the number of voters in the 2014 gubernatorial election was 253K lower than in 2010.
* The estimated voting-age population of the state is 21.4M. Not all are eligible vote. Around 2.8M are non-citizens and around 0.5M are convicted felons in prison, on probation and on parole. The latter group is ineligible until their sentences are “fully discharged” or they are pardoned.
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