The state of Texas has a lot more registered voters this year than in 2000.
Nearly 700,000 Texans have registered to vote since early March, a surge driven by interest in the presidential race and hotly contested congressional races, officials said Friday.
By Election Day, Nov. 2, more than 13 million Texans are expected to be registered to vote, said Luis Saenz, Texas’ assistant secretary of state.
In the 2002 elections, when Republicans trounced Democrats for the state’s top elected offices, registered voters totaled about 12.5 million.
Registration this year has been particularly heavy in Dallas and Travis counties. And in Harris County, election officials were conducting a “voter-thon” Friday in hope of getting more people to register.
In Tarrant County, more than 40,000 new voters have registered since the March 9 Republican and Democratic primaries, Elections Administrator Robert Parten said Friday.
He said he expects 50,000 more voters to register by the Monday deadline, bringing the number of registered voters in Tarrant County to more than 900,000.
The rate of increase is about the same as in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections, Parten said, noting that no heavily contested races countywide are on this year’s ballot.
The registration rate might have dropped from previous presidential elections if not for interest in an Arlington initiative in which voters are being asked to invest tax money in a new $650 million Dallas Cowboys stadium, he said.
That debate, and the race between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, may draw as many as 65 percent of Tarrant County’s registered voters to the polls, Parten predicted.
In Dallas County, where more than 1 million people are registered to vote, officials say they have seen a larger increase in voter registration than in 2000.
Since July 1, more than 49,000 additional voters had signed up, said Danny Clayton, Dallas County’s supervisor for voter registration. During the same period in 2000, voter rolls grew by only 33,000 people, he said.
Clayton said the increased interest in the elections is attributable partly to the high-profile race between U.S. Reps. Martin Frost, a Democrat, and Pete Sessions, a Republican, for a congressional district entirely within Dallas County.
Election officials in Parker and Johnson counties say population growth has increased their voter participation. An added incentive in Johnson County is the tight congressional race between U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, a Democrat, and Republican state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth.
Tarrant is the most reliably Republican of the six large urban counties, while Dallas is fairly close to even and is predicted to be majority Democrat in the near future. Monday is the deadline to register – you know what to do, right?
And the HCDP Sharpstown location hit its goal of 2000 new registrations last night. Someone get Greg a fruity rum drink and a cold cloth for his forehead.
UPDATE: Here’s some anecdotal evidence from Dallas. Thanks to Crispin for the link.