As Texas grapples with coronavirus, voter registration numbers are down

With the coronavirus shutdown compelling Texans to stay at home, new voter registrations were down nearly 30% for the first six months of 2020 compared with a similar period in the last presidential election year, according to an American-Statesman analysis of state figures.

The data suggest that a return to shutdown conditions to stymie the spread of COVID-19 could have profound, if murky, implications for races in a tight election year.

The Statesman previously reported that registration was markedly down in big urban counties, which tend to vote Democratic.

The latest numbers show that in Travis County, 4,326 new registrations were collected between March 1 and the end of June — with the bulk of those coming in June.

Over the same period in 2016, more than twice as many people registered in Travis County.

In some ways, the drop in new registrations reflected how the virus has hindered access to key civic institutions, from the library to the marriage altar.

In April 2016, 1,849 Texans registered at libraries or while getting a marriage certificate across the state. Last April, that number was just 418.

In April alone, during the heart of the shutdown, new registrations were down 76% statewide, largely because the bulk of voter registration takes place at driver’s license offices, which were shuttered until late May.

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