Ahead of the primaries next month, officials say, more than 821,000 people are registered to vote in Travis County. The 95% registration rate is an all-time county record – one that will likely be broken before Election Day in November.
Travis County Tax Assessor Collector and Registrar Bruce Elfant says his office saw roughly 50,000 new registrations added to voter rolls since the last election, bringing the total to 821,101 registered voters in the county.
"I was a little bit surprised it was as high as it was," he said. "I look at this stuff every day, and it caught me off guard a little bit – but in a good way."
Normally, Elfant said, the odd years are "kind of sleepy" following midterms and presidential elections. He said the "unprecedented" number of registered voters could increase by 40,000 to 50,000 registrations ahead of the general election, bumping that percentage to 96%.
While the window to register ahead of the primaries is closed, voters can still register for the November election. (Learn more about how to register in Central Texas here.)
Looking further ahead, Elfant said Texas could make registrations easier by allowing people to register when they renew their driver's licenses or by building out an online voter-registration system. Texas has been in and out of court because of its policies over the past few years and is currently facing several lawsuits for allegedly violating the National Voter Registration Act.
Whether by order or by choice, Elfant said, Texas is going to have to join the 40 other states with online registration.
"It's gonna happen. Texas may be the last to do it, and we may be court-ordered to do it, but I bet we will have online registration in Texas some day," he said. "And it would be nice to see our voter registration system join the 21st century."
Feb. 18 is the first day of early voting for the March primaries.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said there were 822,101 registered voters in the county.