Updated 6:06 p.m.
The deadline to register to vote in Texas has arrived. Tuesday is the final day to submit registrations or have them postmarked. The Bexar County Elections Office has taken on additional staff to handle the influx of applications.
As of the beginning of the month, Bexar County has already seen a record number of voter registrations at almost 1.1 million — and that number is expected to rise when more are added after the deadline. The previous mark for a midterm was 959,000 registrations set in 2014, and there were 1,049,000 registrations for the 2016 presidential election.
Texas is also seeing its highest number of voters at over 15.6 million registered voters with election day now less than a month away.
Bexar County Elections administrator Jacque Callanen provided a tour of the elections office in the final days of registration. What’s normally a staff of 20 people now has 15 additional temporary workers to input data and mail out ballots to voters who requested them. The office is receiving about 1,000 applications per day.
On top of registering voters, voting machines — both electronic and paper ballot tabulators — are being tuned and tested.
“We’re seeing more applications come in to register; we’re seeing more mail ballots come in than a normal midterm; and so we’re gearing up, we’re preparing all of the voting units out there; we’re putting everything we have out there as if this was a presidential (election),” she said.
Another record breaker is the number of races.
“This is the largest ballot we’ve ever had. The average voter will have 60 contests to decide on,” she said.
Last week, the Texas Secretary of State’s office rejected more than 2,000 registration applications due to not meeting signature requirements. The non-profit vote.org submitted the registrations that included a copy of a signature instead of the real thing.
Callanen said because the vote.org applications did not have “wet signatures” — signed with a pen or pencil — the state did not accept them.
“Their instructions for the program were to fill this out online, then take a piece of paper, write your signature, take a picture of your signature, and apply it in the app,” she said. “That does not meet the requirements of a wet signature.”
The Bexar County Elections Office is treating the affected vote.org applications like any voter registration form that’s been incorrectly filled out. Applicants are being mailed another form and will have 10 days to submit it, even if it falls after Tuesday's registration deadline.
The affected counties include Travis, Bexar, Dallas and Cameron.
Last week, Travis County election officials said affected applications from Travis County would still be processed.
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Joey Palacios can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @Joeycules