No Exceptions for Ike-Displaced Voters

A voter-registration deadline extension looks unlikely

A request by several citizen groups to extend the voter-registration deadline in counties hit by Hurricane Ike appears to be going nowhere. Last week, Houston Votes, the League of Women Voters of Texas, and other groups asked Gov. Rick Perry to use his emergency powers to extend the Oct. 6 deadline (to register for the Nov. 4 election) by another week in the 29 counties declared disaster areas in the wake of Ike. "Many Texans already have lost all their possessions to Hurricane Ike; they should not also lose their right to vote this November," said Fred Lewis of Houston Votes, a collaboration of nonprofits registering people in Harris Co.

The governor's office responded that they would consider such a request only if it came from county officials, and thus far, it has received none. "The secretary of state's office has been in touch with those counties that were impacted, and they're not getting any indication that there are any problems," said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle. "There's still plenty of time to register, and you can do that from anywhere; you don't even have to be in your home county. You can go to the secretary of state's website [www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqvr.shtml], fill out and print a registration form, and stick it in the mail."

The Chronicle contacted a few voter registrars in affected counties, and they agreed – although, notably, we were unable to contact officials with Galveston County, the hardest hit. Officials with Waller, Brazoria, and Jeffer­son counties said they planned no such request, and George Hammerlein, director of voter registration in Harris County, said: "We're on top of it. There was plenty of time before Ike to register, and in the weeks after. ... There is still plenty of reaction time." Hammerlein said that even at emergency supplies stations after Ike, registration cards have been made available.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

election, Hurricane Ike, voter registration, Rick Perry, League of Women Voters

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