We are almost a month away from the presidential election and the Oct. 5 deadline for voter registration is closing in. In the midst of a pandemic and with the rise of visibility of I.C.E. detainment camps and police brutality, people are considering this election one of the most important of their lifetimes.
Many people are still hesitant to leave the home to register to vote, due to the risk of catching COVID-19, therefore some have taken it upon themselves to become District Deputy Registrars and help people register to vote.
Although Oak Cliff resident Nathan Ross had originally wanted to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders this election, he intends to vote for Joe Biden. He says becoming a registrar is his way of campaigning for Biden without directly mentioning his name. Ross decided to become a registrar following the temporary closure of the bar in which he had been working prior to the pandemic.
“I personally will register anyone,” Ross says. “I don’t care who they vote for. As a registrar, as soon as you’re done filling out your form with me, you’re basically registered.”
The process to become a registrar looked a little bit different this year compared to previous years. Ross says it entailed him taking an online Zoom course with several others.
“I basically sat there and watched a guy talk for 20 minutes and then he swore us in,” Ross says. “I got the certificate in the mail. And then I had to go down to the Dallas County elections office to get certified from Dallas County.”
Although Ross is more left-leaning, he insists that everyone who can vote should go out and do so. While he hopes that the number of Democrats voting will outnumber republicans, he mostly believes that people should exercise their rights.
“It’s good for everyone to have a voice,” Ross says. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”
East Dallas-based publicist Teresa Nguyen is also among the many who chose to become a registrar this election season. When she is not helping new restaurants grow, she is assisting in the voter registration process.
Like Ross, Nguyen took the registrar course online. She recalls there being 3,000 people taking the online course at once. Passionate about issues like immigration reform and women’s rights, Nguyen is determined to increase voter turnout this election.
“Voting is a right that not many people practice,” Nguyen says, “so it was important for me to get people motivated and assist them with the voting process.”
In 2016, over 43% of eligible voters didn’t cast a vote in the presidential election. During the process of becoming a registrar, Nguyen says she learned about the preoccupations people have when it comes to voting.
As a registrar, Nguyen hopes to help homeless people and previously incarcerated individuals learn how they can cast a ballot this year.
“One of the big things I’ve learned is that there are so many situations that keep people from voting,” Nguyen says. “Like ‘Oh, I don’t have my driver’s license, so I can’t go vote,’ but that’s not always the case. I think in learning that, I think that I can educate people on how they can vote.”
Like Ross, Nguyen is left-leaning. She says that the reason Texas is thought to be a “red state” is many people opt not to vote. She believes Texas could potentially be a swing state if more people exercised their rights.
While this past year has posed many challenges, Nguyen hopes that it has been eye-opening for people and will encourage them to want to take action and make a difference.
“We’re in a pandemic, we’ve had 200,000 people die in our country, and we have a high rate of unemployment,” Nguyen says. “The way the United States is looked upon in the world is completely different from how we look at it, and the man in the highest seat is saying the ugliest, meanest things. I’m hoping that [this election] will show that we’re all good people who want good things for each other. It really comes down to that.”
To check if you are registered to vote, visit votetexas.gov.
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