January 29, 2018
I cast my very first vote in 1976. Yep, it just so happens that was the year our great country celebrated its bicentennial. Coincidence? I think not. I’d say it was Karma.
Mary Jo Chapman (now Walker), who was one of my best friends in high school, was with me. She was also voting for the first time. We were very excited when we went to the polling place in the Baptist Church near my parents’ house. Mrs. Terrell was working the polls. (For the record, Mary Jo played the title role in “Catherine Howard”, our one-act play that went all the way to state that year. I was Henry VIII.)
Mary Jo says she remembers so many details of that first vote “maybe because it was such a grown up thing to do. Or maybe because Watergate was so fresh in our minds and participation in government felt so important. Maybe it was because I felt like what I was doing made a difference. 40+ years later, I still feel a sense of awe and privilege when I vote.”
I agree. It’s part of why I vote every chance I get. No exceptions. Karma tells me it’s the right thing to do.
First Step: Register to Vote
Last week, I became a deputy voter registrar in both Travis and Bastrop Counties so that I could register voters. February 5th is the deadline to register to vote in the March 6th primaries.
I used my new credentials to register potential first-time voters at Bastrop and Cedar Creek High Schools in Bastrop ISD. This week I’ll be doing the same thing in the Elgin and Austin ISDs.
There were lots of excited students with great questions. They’ll make good first-time voters and have their own great memories.
Texas doesn’t make it easy
Texas has a terrible track record when it comes to voting, in part because there’s been a deliberate effort to make it harder for people to vote. Federal courts have found over and over again that the Legislature has intentionally discriminated against voters.
Some folks asked on social media last week why Texas doesn’t have online voter registration…..in 2018. That’s a legit question that leaves people justifiably scratching their heads. So much of our lives are carried out online every day. Things like banking, paying bills, buying things. You name it.
So why not Texas? Well, those in control of the State Capitol don’t want to make it easier.
I know how infuriating and frustrating that is. But the only way we’re going to change things is…wait for it… to register to vote, get others registered to vote and then…show up and vote! And I just happen to believe we need to do it every time. Every chance we get. No exceptions.
If you need to register, you can complete a voter registration application by clicking this button. It’s not online registration. You still have to print something out, sign it, find a stamp and mail it in. Again, registering ought to be as easy as completing the form and hitting send. But this is the next best thing.
Some neat students I met last week in Bastrop County get it. I’m counting on them. And it gives me hope.