Voter registration cards on the way – finally

Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle

Harris County officials prepared to ship out 1.7 million voter registration cards Tuesday – after an unprecedented nearly five-month delay resulting from a grueling court battle over redistricting.

Across Texas, election officials are required to send out new voter registration cards to all 11.6 million active voters no later than Wednesday, under deadlines set by a federal judge who oversaw the redistricting case. Some counties already sent out their cards, but Secretary of State Spokesman Rich Parsons said he could not confirm how many would meet the judge-imposed time limit.

Renee Fleming, a business service network representative with the U.S. Postal Service, oversaw the delivery of 6,255 pounds of cards at the Houston downtown post office on Tuesday. Somewhere in seven stacks of cards was her own voter registration card, which she first got after moving to Harris County in 1981.

“I’m waiting for it – I’m not going to dig through that,” Fleming said.

Statewide, however, about 1.3 million registered voters, nearly 1 in 10, won’t get a new card this week because they are listed as being “in suspense” – which typically means officials lack a valid address for them. In Harris County, one in five voters under 30 is “in suspense,” mainly because younger voters tend to move a lot.

“The bulk is people who have moved and not updated their addresses,” said Harris County voter registration manager Tom Moon. “They can still vote – they’re not ‘unregistered.’ ”

Any Texas voter who doesn’t receive a new yellow registration card soon – and hasn’t moved out of county – can vote with a valid ID. However, voters should check their registration status and update addresses or re-register by midnight on April 30 to avoid problems or paperwork at the polls, if they plan to vote in the May 29 primaries, Parsons said.

Voters can update addresses online if they remained in the same county and have a Texas driver’s license.

In Harris County, about 6,000 voters who registered for the first time in 2012 should expect to get their cards one to two weeks later than everyone else, Moon said

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