“We Can Do Better”

By Mimi Marziani, Legal Director

We can do better

“We can do better. We can make sure that registration rolls are secure, up to date, and complete. . . . If you are an eligible voter and want to be registered, you should be a registered voter — period.

Hillary Clinton spoke these words yesterday in a powerful speech calling upon lawmakers of all political stripes to make voting and voter registration easier.

These words should have sounded very familiar to Secretary of State Carlos Cascos and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw. Last week, with our legal partners at Waters & Kraus LLP, Battleground Texas and 11 Texas voters notified Secretary Cascos and Mr. McCraw of holes in the voter registration processes at DPS that violate federal and state law. These problems must be immediately fixed. When you go to DPS, “If you are an eligible voter and want to be registered, you should be a registered voter — period.”

Indeed, under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, DPS must give eligible Texans the opportunity to register to vote when they apply for driver’s licenses or other ID cards. Similarly, every time a voter updates her address information with DPS, that information must also be used to update her voter registration files.

But the registration processes at DPS are flawed — leaving the registration rolls in Texas outdated and incomplete. In the last year and a half, almost 5,000 Texans have complained to the Secretary of State about DPS after showing up to vote and being unable to cast a regular ballot. And, as we explain in our letter, these complaints are just the tip of the iceberg.

Texans have a right to make their voices heard on Election Day – and the state of Texas has a responsibility to ensure that eligible residents have equal access to voter registration. DPS can do better, and we intend to make sure that they do.