TYLER, Texas — The Smith County Voter Registration Office said this year's voter registration turnout was higher than anticipated.
Edna Morris, chief deputy election administrator for Smith County, said this year was a collaborative effort.
Morris partnered with nine community organizations, schools and universities to make voter registration more accessible to folks in the community.
Some of the organizations include the University of Texas at Tyler, Texas College, Tyler Junior College, The Glass Reaction Center and the Lindale Library.
“We are fortunate to have more locations this year versus last year,” Morris said. “The support has been great, we really want people to take advantage of those locations to get people out to register to vote.”
Texas College had a total of 69 students who registered to vote in Smith County and some of them were registering to vote for the first time.
“Since some people don’t know what registering to vote is or they think it’s just something pointless but I think it’s important that we get involved, so we can start to see changes happen," Morris said.
Este Poder, which translated to English means this power, is using its platform to be a voice for Black and brown communities and to educate people on the importance of civil engagement.
“Representation matters, when someone shows up to the polls or someone shows up to register to vote that they can relate to someone that speaks their language,’” Emily Pinal, Este Poder co-founder, said. “Someone that can tell them we have the resources available to you,”
Pinal said her goal for this year’s National Voter Registration Day was to educate young voters in small or rural communities.
“We’re holding high schools accountable to make sure that they uphold the state mandate that requires high schools to give seniors the opportunity to register to vote,” Pinal added. “We’ve talked to a lot of high schools throughout East Texas and some of them are making sure to give that opportunity to seniors in their government classes."
Smith County Elections Administrator Michelle Allcon said she’s anticipating a higher voter registration and voter turnout for this November election.
“I’m anticipating at least 80,000 but we could get all the way up to that 100,000 mark,” Allcon said. “You can vote during early voting, you can vote on Election Day or if you meet one of the qualifications you can vote by mail, we just want anyone who is able to vote."
Residents can still register to vote at their local election office. The Smith County Elections Office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for anyone interested in becoming a registered voter. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 11.