A decades-old part of Texas’ election code is receiving new attention as Democrats look to chart a path forward and maintain their ranks of volunteers qualified to register voters. Perhaps no organization is expected to feel the effect more than Battleground Texas, whose thousands of deputy voter registrars will lose their certification Dec. 31, and will have to go through training before they can earn it back in the new year. “This is wildly burdensome,” said Mimi Marziani, voter protection director at Battleground Texas. “The only logical explanation is that all of those things are aimed at the same goal, which is making it much harder to vote.” Under state election law, deputy volunteer registrars serve two-year terms that expire at the end of even-numbered years. While the provision has been on the books since the 1980s, Democrats predict this year will bring its most far-reaching consequences yet because the number of deputy volunteer registrars has ballooned in just two years.
Activists cite a trio of bills passed in 2011 that toughened the provision. The new laws narrowed the qualifications to be a registrar, made it a crime for registrars to be compensated on the basis of how many voters they sign up, and ordered the secretary of state’s office to set up a training program for registrars.
Activists especially are frustrated with the training requirement, which they say is yet another impediment to building a stable community of registrars. It is one more hurdle the Democrats say they must overcome if they want to bounce back from their worse-than-expected losses in November.