Majority of Bexar County voters support making voting easier, more accessible, poll finds

Voter registration measures supported, voting by mail increasingly partisan

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File) (Tony Dejak, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This story is part of a series reporting on the latest Bexar Facts poll. Find more coverage on our Bexar Facts page. See the full poll and find more information about it on the Bexar Facts website.

A majority of Bexar County voters would support changes to state law that make it easier to register to vote in Texas, according to the results of a new Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report poll.

In the recent poll, more than 600 registered Bexar County voters were asked by phone and internet a series of questions about automatic, online and same-day voter registration policies.

Texas ranks near the bottom of states in voter rights and the Legislature has traditionally balked at tools that are proven to increase voter access and turnout.

A report published in 2018 in the Election Law Journal ranked Texas as the 5th most difficult state to cast a ballot.

RELATED: 9 ways other states make voting easier, more accessible than Texas

When it comes to automatic voter registration or AVR, 74% supported automatically registering Texans to vote when they turned 18 years old, while 25% were opposed to the idea.

When asked about automatically registering Texans when they get their driver’s license, 68% supported the idea while 28% did not.

Since 2016, a total of 19 states and the District of Columbia have transitioned to AVR. Residents in those states are automatically registered to vote when they conduct business at the DMV or a government agency. Residents can opt-out if they choose to do so.

(Changes in Voting Laws in Texas. Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report Poll)

Two-thirds of voters, 66%, were also in support of online voter registration in Texas while 31% were not. Texas is one of only nine states to not offer its residents online voter registration.

More than half of voters, 56%, also were in support of allowing someone to register to vote on election day compared to 42% who were not.

As of June 2019, 21 states plus the District of Columbia allowed same-day registration for residents. In Texas, residents must fill out an application that has to be mailed weeks before the election date.

Voters are also in favor of allowing more vote-by-mail access. Two-thirds of those polled approve allowing any voter who wants to vote by mail the option to do so, while 33% were opposed.

A majority of states have expanded mail-in voting to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of late August, Texas was one of only six states that required voters to give a reason beyond the coronavirus to cast a ballot by mail.

Texas’s mail-in ballots are only available to people who are outside their home county on election day, those 65 years or older or who claim to have a disability.

Before the pandemic, more than 30 states already allowed anyone to vote by mail and a handful of states send vote-by-mail ballots to everyone with no need for an application.

While there was bipartisan support for most of the voter registration changes, the poll showed increased partisan views when asked about mail-in voting.

Bexar County voters were more split when asked if they supported automatically sending all voters a ballot to vote by mail. 49% supported the idea while 47% did not.

When asked about the ease and health risks associated with voting by mail, 73% described voting by mail as easy and 70% described it as having fewer health risks.

Just over half of voters polled said that “secure” described voting by mail either very well or somewhat well, but 44% said it did not.

(Voting by mail -- Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report Poll)

Half of the voters polled said “risky” was not a good way to describe voting by mail.

The poll found that there were large partisan differences in the perceptions of voting by mail.

Ninety-one percent of Democrats responded saying voting by mail increases voter turnout and has fewer risks than voting in-person, while 74% of Republicans believe it increases voter fraud.

(Partisan voting by mail -- Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report Poll)

The Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report Poll has a margin of error of 4%.

The general election will be held on Nov. 3.

See the full poll and find more information about it on the Bexar Facts website. There, you can also take the survey for yourself (those results will be recorded but not reflected in the scientific results.)

Stay up to date with the latest election news and resources on our Vote 2020 page.

About the Author:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.