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Voter registration deadline marks turning point

By Chris Tomlinson, Associated Press
Oct. 7, 2012 at 10 p.m.


AUSTIN - The voter registration deadline on Tuesday marks an important turning point for the Texas elections.

Who turns out to vote is unlikely to decide the presidency - Mitt Romney pretty much has Texas wrapped up - but many races for the Legislature or county offices will depend on who takes the time to cast a ballot.

According to the Texas secretary of state, about 4.5 million Texas Republicans voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. Democrats, though, are not nearly as consistent.

Only 2.8 million Democrats voted in Texas for their presidential nominee in 2004. But in 2008, more than 3.5 million Democrats turned out for President Barack Obama. The extra 700,000 votes did not make a difference in the Texas presidential campaign, but they changed the face of the Legislature.

In 2005, Democrats held 54 out of 150 seats in the Texas House, but that number jumped to 74 seats in 2009, thanks to the bump in Democratic turnout. In the non-presidential 2010 election, though, tea party supporters turned out in record numbers and Republicans gained a 101-vote supermajority.

Thanks to redistricting, Democrats will likely gain seats in the Texas House this year, with estimates ranging from six new seats to as many as 15. How many seats the Democrats will gain depends on registration and turnout.

The number of Texans registered to vote in presidential elections has climbed since 2004, when 12.2 million people signed up for the spring primary elections. In 2008 that number increased to 12.7 million and by July 2012, about 13.2 million people had registered to vote in this year's primary runoffs.

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