This Saturday evening marks a chance for you to finally get around to something you may have been meaning to do for ages: register to vote.
Voting itself is one of the foundational rights of American citizens and is an important way you can participate in our local, state and national civic life. The state Constitutional Amendment Election on Nov. 5 will ask voters whether they support or oppose 10 proposed amendments to the Texas State Constitution. If passed, these amendments could affect you directly. One, for example, proposes banning the state from ever implementing an income tax. Others affect public services you rely on, like law enforcement. (You can find details about the proposed amendments on the Register’s website or in a public notice that was published Friday, Sept. 6.)
Deciding what you think about these proposed amendments and making your opinion known at the ballot box sends an important message to elected officials: You care about what is being done in the state legislature.
Even if your preference doesn’t end up winning the election, your vote tells officials that they need to listen to you. The more you and others send that message, the more you’ll be able to influence what happens in Austin and beyond.
That said, there’s a key step that you can’t overlook if you want to be able to cast a ballot this fall. Make sure you’re registered to vote.
Voter registration is how officials ensure that you’re eligible to cast a vote. It’s a simple process and doesn’t cost anything, but you do need to make sure it’s done at least a month before the Nov. 5 election.
New would-be voters who live in Cooke County need to fill out a paper voter registration form and either turn it in to a local voter registration official or mail it directly to to the Cooke County Tax Assessor-Collector, 112 S. Dixon St., Gainesville, TX 76240.
And that’s where this Saturday comes in. It’s a rare opportunity to meet with voter registration volunteers in person outside of regular government office hours.
The League of Women Voters of Cooke County is hosting a movie night at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Gainesville Farmers Market. They’ll show a film, “Iron Jawed Angels,” focusing on major figures in the historical movement to grant U.S. women the right to vote. And at that event, league volunteers will be available to help people register to vote.
If you haven’t voted before, that’s your chance to get registered without having to get a postage stamp or take time off work to hand-deliver your registration to the appropriate office.
By the way, you don’t need to re-register before every single election. If you have already registered or voted within the past four years and your information, like your name and address, hasn’t changed since then, you’re probably good to go.
But if you’ve moved, changed your name or simply haven’t gotten around to visiting the polls during a recent election, you may need to re-register.
To check the status of your voter registration, visit https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/ MVP/mvp.do online, then enter your birth date and one of the following:
• Your Texas driver’s license number, if you provided it when you registered to vote;
• Your Voter Unique Identifier, which appears on your voter registration certificate; or
• Your first and last name and your county of residence.