My daughter turned me into a voter

By Chris Plauche, Bexar County Volunteer Deputy Registrar

My whole life until this year, I have never voted or been involved in politics.

It wasn’t until my daughter talked to me about voting that I realized how important it is to have a voice in our elections. Our government has a responsibility to all — and I mean all — of the people it represents, and I now see how important it is not only for me to vote, but to ensure everyone who is eligible is able to do so.

I run a soup kitchen in San Antonio that provides 3 meals per day to about 250 folks. Four years ago, I started surveying the guests who come to our center. The surveys were developed nationally to assess how cities treat those experiencing homelessness. I took it upon myself to add questions to the survey about voting.

Registering voters at a San Antonio soup kitchen

While analyzing the surveys, I discovered that three-fourths of those experiencing homelessness voted before they became homeless. But once homeless, voter turnout drops to 10%. Why? One reason is that many lack a photo ID — but luckily after the 5th Circuit Court’s recent ruling that requires Texas to change its discriminatory voter ID law, this may no longer be a big hurdle for low-income Texans. But many also said they didn’t think they could vote because they didn’t understand the voter registration process — or simply because no one had asked them to register to vote.

So I attended a short, hour-long training to become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar for Bexar County and offered to register folks every Thursday at our center. They were delighted that someone wanted them to have a voice in our elections. Each voter registration drive is energized by their enthusiasm. In a population that often describes themselves as feeling ignored, invisible, and not worthy of an opinion, the process alone seems to begin to restore their dignity as citizens. I love it!

It is so important that we encourage our communities to register to vote.

Who do you interact with on a daily basis who you can register to vote? Do your part in expanding the electorate — get trained to register voters and register your community.

Pledge to register voters