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'Thank You For Voting' Explores Roadblocks To High Voter Turnout

Julia Reihs/KUT
Author Erin Geiger Smith says one roadblock to high turnout among young voters is the lack of same-day registration and voting.

From Texas Standard:

Early voting turnout has been high in Texas' most populous counties. Not so in other areas, like the Rio Grande Valley.

That's why Erin Geiger Smith, author of the book "Thank You for Voting: The Maddening, Enlightening, Inspiring Truth About Voting in America," says she's cautiously optimistic about turnout this year.

"Any time we see a ton of people showing up to the polls and showing enthusiasm is exciting, but early voting doesn't always tell us what happens at the end," Geiger Smith told Texas Standard.

Her book parallels a lot of the issues being talked about this election season, including mail-in voting. She says because of the pandemic many people in states without extensive mail-in voting, like Texas, are realizing how common it is elsewhere.

"We have several states that have voted completely by mail and for a long time," she said.

A portion of the book is also devoted to the youth vote. Geiger Smith said there are common misconceptions about why turnout among younger voters is often low, and the reason is not apathy. She said it's usually because of a lack of information.

"It's failure to teach the mechanics, and then not making voting as convenient as possible," she said.

Strict voter registration deadlines in some stats also have an impact on youth turnout. Texas cuts off registration 30 days prior to an election, while other states offer same-day registration and voting.

More generally, Geiger said some voters felt their vote wouldn't matter in an "all- red" or "all-blue" state because the electoral college ultimately decides the presidential race. But she said that's short-sighted.

"Your vote very much matters in all of the elections below the presidential election," she said. "If the coronavirus has taught us anything it's that local and state officials have a huge effect on our lives."

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