Texas could become the seventeenth state to allow online voter registration if two bills advancing out of committees receive final approval. House Bill 313, which received praise from committee members in a Monday hearing, and Senate Bill 315, which was voted out of committee Thursday, propose allowing voters to register online and have that application automatically authenticated rather than having to wait on local election officials to reenter the data in their systems and confirm it.
Arizona, which was the first state to create a completely online registration system in 2002, now receives more than 70 percent of its applications digitally, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, introduced HB 313 with a higher authentication standard than seen in Arizona and other states.
Users would have to prove their identity by providing the last four digits of their social security number, driver’s license number and driver’s license audit number, which is specific to the physical card and would prevent someone from stealing a license to register online.
“That is such a high threshold of authorization that in Texas law it constitutes notarization,” Strama said.
The Texas Association of Counties reported in the bill’s fiscal note that the proposal would yield considerable savings associated with the expedited process and not having to hire temporary staff to handle an increased influx of paper registrations near deadlines — often increasing the margin of human error.
Travis County anticipates saving $102,000 annually, assuming that half of voters register this way.
Election officials there, and from Tarrant County, testified in support of the measure.