National Voter Registration Day Honors Our Future and Our Past
By Texas State Representative Toni Rose
I have voted in some elections that I’ve been really excited about, and some that I haven’t, but every time I go into that voting booth, I think of my grandmother and the obstacles she had to endure, and the price she had to pay for a poll tax in order for her to cast a vote. Now, the amount might seem small to some, but the disrespect and the indignities she suffered to cast her votes were huge.
That is why I celebrate National Voter Registration Day on September 24th. I have a duty as an American, as a Texan, and to my grandmother is to show up and cast my ballot in every election. We as citizens are charged with the responsibility of shaping the direction of this country and this state. If we don’t do our job, who will?
I don’t claim that it’s easy. The poll tax and the intimidation tactics are not a thing of the past, they have been modernized and come in many forms across the country and even in this state. It was a true disappointment that SB 9 was voted out of committee this past legislative session–a bill which would have opened the door to voter suppression, criminalize even honest mistakes, and opened Texas up to Election Day chaos by employing a voter verification program that proved to be unreliable and riddled with cybersecurity weaknesses in other states. In that hearing, I heard how passionate and important voting is to Texans. Over 200 people showed up to give public testimony in opposition to the bill. This critical hearing ran well past midnight and it was truly inspiring!
Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to make sure that our voting rolls are more accurate and secure; however, registration should also be more accessible and voting more convenient. We should push to modernize how we register and how we update registrations. Our laws should ensure that every eligible voter’s voice is heard, not make it more difficult for those who serve in the military, are elderly, or move often have difficulty exercising this sacred duty.
National Voter Registration Day is a holiday that we should all celebrate by checking our voter registration to make sure it is up to date and accurate and checking with our family, neighbors, and friends. We all know our democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate and have their voices heard. Unfortunately, every year millions of eligible Americans find themselves unable to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t sure how to register.
In 2018, over 800,000 voters registered for the first time or updated their records on National Voter Registration Day. I believe that we could top that figure in 2019 in Texas alone! Celebrate September 24 by making sure your registration is up to date so that every Texan can fulfill their duty to this great state and country and make their voice heard!
House Member Toni Rose proudly represents District 110 in the Texas House of Representatives.