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NE Texas Counties See a Last-Minute Surge in New Voters

Annie Bolin
Northeast Texas voters might have ignored this advice, but a lot of new registrants made it just under the wire.

Correction: The audio story cites Texas as having 15 million more voters than a year ago -- 15.8 million is actually the total of all registered voters in Texas. As of Oct. 18, 2018, there are about 1.7 million more registered voters than in the last midterms.

Northeast Texans are as motivated to vote as anyone else in the state next month. That became especially clear in the waning days of registration, when clerks in Northeast Texas counties took in unusually high numbers of new registrants.

We took a 30-day period from our cutoff, which was Oct. 9,” says Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet. “We had in that 30-day period, 12, 748 new registrants in Collin County. Bruce Sherbet is the elections administrator in Collin County. In 2014, it was 4,801” during that same 30-day lead-up to registration deadline.

The influx brings Collin County to just above 580,000 registered voters in total. That's about 25,000 more than 2017, which, Sherbet says, is normal for a year-over-year increase. It's just the run-up to deadline that's been unusual.

Hunt and Fannin counties saw similar homestretch upticks in registration. Hunt County Elections Administrator Mina Cook says that about 1,500 of the 2,000 new registrants who've signed up since the beginning of September came in the final 30 days.

And Fannin County Clerk Tammy Biggar says the county saw 602 new registrants in the 40 days leading up to Oct. 9. There are a little more than 1,400 new registrants there all year.

The last day of registration, we had somewhere between 80 and 100” new registrants, Biggar says. In the weeks leading up to Oct. 9, she says, the county registered at most two dozen in a single day.

Elections officials in the area point to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight as the main reason for the late surge in registrations. However, the fight seems to have galvanized as many conservatives looking to defend the Republican majority in Washington as progressives looking to upend it.

In short, enthusiasm is high on both sides of the proverbial aisle.


Note: This story was edited on Oct. 16, 2018, to amend a typo in the  amount of voters registering in Collin County in the final 30 days.

Scott Morgan has been an award-winning journalist since 2001. His work has appeared in several newspapers and magazines as well as online. He has also been an editor, freelancer, speaker, writing teacher, author, and podcaster.