Texas voter registration smashes record as Trump-Biden showdown looms

There are still two weeks before the state's Oct. 5 voter registration deadline

Texas has smashed a new voter registration record with less than three weeks to go until the state's early-voting process begins.

Since the last presidential election, Texas has added 1.5 million new voters, surpassing 16.6 million in total, according to the latest figures announced Tuesday by Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs.

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There are still two weeks before the state's Oct. 5 voter registration deadline. The state does not require voters to pick a party to register.

“Ahead of the November election, I encourage all eligible Texans who have not already done so to register to vote by Oct. 5 so that they can help shape the future of the Lone Star State,” Hughs said in a statement.

In the four previous presidential election cycles, Texas added an average of about 700,000 new voters, according to the Houston Chronicle, which first reported the news. That's less than half as many who have been added this cycle.

About one-third of the growth occurred in three deep-blue counties: Harris, Travis and Bexar, the Chronicle reported. But voter registration is also sky-rocketing in suburban communities that Trump carried in 2016.

The surge of voters comes amid a new legal battle over Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to add six days to the state's early-voting period because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Texas Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the governor, a Republican, on Wednesday.

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“The Texas Constitution is not a document of convenient consultation,” the lawsuit said. “It is a steadfast, uninterrupted charter of governmental structure.”

The lawsuit alleges that Abbott is required to consult any constitutional changes with the state Legislature.

Millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail this November due to the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the chances the winner of the presidential race won't immediately be known on election night. State election officials in several key battleground states have warned it could take days to count all of the votes.

President Trump has repeatedly claimed -- without evidence -- that mail-in voting would allow for widespread fraud.

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According to an aggregate of polls from RealClearPolitics, Trump is leading Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by 2.4 percentage points in Texas.

Texas has not voted to elect a Democratic president since 1976, when Jimmy Carter beat incumbent President Gerald Ford by more than 3 percentage points in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report categorizes Texas as “lean Republican” in terms of the presidential election.