Ice cream with a side of democracy: Voter registration drive at Amy’s Thursday

Voter registration forms will be available at Amy's Ice Creams locations around Austin Thursday. (KXAN/Chris Davis)
Voter registration forms will be available at Amy's Ice Creams locations around Austin Thursday. (KXAN/Chris Davis)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Travis County will be registering voters at Amy’s Ice Creams locations all over Austin from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The drive, run by volunteer deputy voter registrars, will take place at every Amy’s store except the airport location. Around 60-70 volunteers will be taking part and will have registration forms on hand.

Silke Morin is one of the volunteers. She went to the Travis County tax office Wednesday to pick up supplies, which she planned to set up at her local Amy’s.

“If people have to get in their car and go somewhere,” she said, “they’re going to be less likely — this is just like with voting — they’re going to be less likely do it.”

Having voter registration drives at places like ice cream shops, where people are already going to be on a hot summer helps fight apathy and, she said, the temptation people have to think elections will just go the way they want.

“And that’s not true,” Morin said. “People don’t actually show up.”

Travis County is trying to make it easier to show up by taking voter registration out of the tax office. Thursday’s drive is just the latest in their push to get voters on the rolls out in the community. A future voter drive will take place at coffee shops.

Bruce “We register as many places as we can find,” Travis County registrar Bruce Elfant said.

Travis County is close to 90 percent voter registration, but Elfant said they’re always looking to increase that number.

“While our registration rate is very high,” he said, “it’s a very dynamic situation because we know that over 100 people are moving into Austin every day. We know people are turning 18 every day.”

Thursday’s drive is also a chance for people to update their information if they’ve moved since the last election. The registration form can take less than a minute to fill out — less time than it takes to get your ice cream.

“Ideally politics is a forum for common ground,” Amy’s CEO Michael Hartman said. “Unfortunately it doesn’t always turn out that way, but ice cream unites us. It’s common ground.”

All you need to register is your driver’s license, state-issued ID or the last four digits of your social security number.

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