By Loren Miller “Good thing we’ve still got politics in Texas— finest form of free entertainment ever invented.” Molly Ivins
Voting Qualifications Each state has complete discretion concerning voting qualifications for national, state and local elections – subject only to the limitations presented in the U.S. Constitution (race, color, age, gender, or non-payment of a poll tax) Texas: (Texas Election Code 11.002) 18 years of age U.S. citizen Has not been determined mentally incompetent by a court Has not been convicted of a felony (unless rights have been restored) Resident of the state and county (30 days) Registered voter (within 30 days of election) Over 70% of the Texas voting population is registered (Motor Voter Law)
Voting In Texas The right to vote has not always been as widespread in the United States as it is today. Texas has a history of preventing people from voting by placing barriers (legal and otherwise) to the ballot. These barriers were implemented after the passage of the 14 th and 15 th Amendments. These amendments were intended to prevent denial of the right to vote based on race.
Voting In Texas After the Civil War Texas law permitted men of all races and ethnicities to vote if they met simple age, residency and citizenship requirements. Texas, like many states allowed illegal aliens to vote if they declared an intent to become a U.S. citizen. Huge impact in South Texas elections Elections were overseen by local officials, usually the county judge or county sheriff. Literacy Tests (used in Texas) began to be used in the 1870s and required prospective voters to take a screening test that conditioned voter registration on a person’s literacy.
Voting In Texas The Ku Klux Klan used terrorist tactics to keep African Americans from voting. Northeast Texas was a hotbed of Klan activity. By the 1890s, Blacks and Hispanics were managed by “influence men.” “Owl Meetings” in East Texas and “Goat Barbeques” in South Texas (where the liquor flowed) were held the night prior to the election. Grandfather Clause (not used in Texas) stated that if your grandfather could vote prior to 1867, then you would be exempt from educational, property, or tax requirements for voting. Declared unconstitutional in Guinn v. U.S. (1915)
Voting In Texas The Poll Tax was used in Texas beginning in 1902 and required that citizens pay a special tax ($1.75) to become eligible to vote. Many low-income Texans failed to pay their poll tax between October 1 and January 31 and were not eligible to vote during the next year. The 24 th Amendment (1964) ended this practice in federal elections The Supreme Court declared this unconstitutional in 1966 for all other elections (Harper v. Virginia)
The White Primary The southern states were solidly Democratic, so who ever won the Democratic primary was assured of winning the general election. The Democratic Party is a private organization and they established that one of the requirements for membership was that you had to be white.
The White Primary The General Election Democrat vRepublican WinnerLoser Democratic Primary (whites only) Smith v. Allwright, 1944
The White Primary The General Election DemocratvRepublican WinnerLoser Democratic Primary The Jaybird Primary (whites only) Terry v. Adams, 1953
Voting In Texas Racial Gerrymandering is used in Texas to minimize the impact of minority voters. Packing minorities into districts that are overwhelmingly minority. Cracking minorities so that they do not constitute a majority.
Voter ID Law in Texas Approved forms of identification: - a valid Texas Driver’s License - an identification card issued by the DPS - a concealed hand gun license issued by the DPS - an election ID card issued by the DPS - a U.S. passport - a military ID card with a photograph - a U.S. citizenship certificate with a photograph
Voter ID Law in Texas A student photo ID is not accepted. The name on your ID must exactly match the name on the official voting roles. - if the names are not a perfect match, you may cast a provisional ballot - both Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott cast provisional ballots in the 2013 constitutional amendment election as their names did not match the voting roles
Types of Elections General Election -- an election to fill state or national offices in November of even numbered years -- some states allow voters to cast a straight-ticket ballot (Texas is one of them) -- a split-ticket ballot involves voters casting their ballots for candidates of two or more political parties -- to win a general election most states require a plurality of votes (Georgia requires a majority, which might require a runoff)
Types of Elections Primary Election -- an election held to determine a party’s nominee for the general election -- a candidate with the most votes wins the primary election in most states -- some states (in the South) require that the candidate have a majority to win which might require a runoff Closed Primary -- only registered party members can participate in their party’s primary Open Primary -- allows voters to pick the party primary of their choice Jungle Primary -- all of the candidates for an office run in the same primary regardless of party affiliation (California)
Types of Elections At-large Election -- a method for choosing public officials in which the citizens of an entire political subdivision, such as a state, vote to select officeholders -- election for governor of Texas -- election for the U.S. House for states with only one representative -- election for the U.S. Senate District Election -- a method for choosing public officials that divides a political subdivision, such as a state, into geographic areas called districts; each district elects one official -- election for the U. S. House in Texas (36) -- election for the Texas House (150) and Texas Senate (31)
Voter Turnout In Texas, turnout is higher in presidential elections than in nonpresidential elections—this follows the national trend. The voter turnout in Texas falls well below the national average. Why? Long ballot and lack of information about candidates and issues Voter fatigue (too many elections) Negative campaigning Low levels of educational attainment Low per capita income High rate of poverty Young population Little party competition Texas Turnout
Demographics of Voter Turnout in 2012 National18-24 25-44 45-64 65-74 75+ Total 41.2 57.3 68.9 73.5 70.0 61.8 Texas 25.4 47.3 62.6 74.7 72.6 53.8 Age Gender MaleFemale National59.7 63.7 Texas50.8 56.6 Race White Black Hispanic Asian National 62.2 66.2 48.0 47.4 Texas 53.1 63.1 38.8 43.4
% of Votes Cast in Texas Elections by Race and Ethnicity
Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections (as % of Voting Eligible Population)
Voter Turnout By State in 2012 (as % of Voting Eligible Population) Highest TurnoutLowest Turnout 1.Minnesota76.1%41. Kentucky 55.9% 2.Wisconsin**73.2%42. New Mexico54.9% 3.Colorado**71.1%43. New York53.6% 4.New Hampshire**70.9%44. Arizona53.3% 5.Iowa**70.2%45. Tennessee52.6% 6.Maine69.2%46. Arkansas51.0% 7.Virginia**66.9%47. Texas50.1% 8.Maryland66.8%48. Oklahoma49.6% 9.Massachusetts66.6%49. West Virginia46.8% 10.Michigan65.3%50. Hawaii44.5% Five of the ten states with the highest turnout have some form of election day registration. Five of the ten states with the highest turnout were swing states.** Average turnout in the 10 swing states was 7.2% higher than in the non-swing states. Five of the lowest turnout states are considered solidly Democratic or solidly Republican and have more burdensome registration requirements.
Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections Most states saw a decline in turnout compared to 2008. Turnout decline was noticeably higher in the non-swing states. Largest IncreaseLargest Decrease 1.Utah**2.6%41. Missouri -9.2% 2.Colorado1.0%42. New Mexico-9.2% 3.Wisconsin0.5%43. Connecticut-9.2% 4.Massachusetts0.1%44. Texas-9.2% 5.Iowa0.0%45. Wyoming-9.7% 6.New Hampshire-1.5%46. West Virginia-9.8% 7.Virginia-1.7%47. California-10.7% 8.North Carolina-2.0%48. Hawaii-12.4% 9.Maryland-2.3%49. Oklahoma-13.1% 10.Mississippi-2.3%50. Alaska-13.4% ** The Romney Factor
Early Voting Thirty-two states have some form of early voting. In Texas, early voting begins two weeks prior to the election and ends four days before the election. Early Voting: 200423% 200831% 201235% Older voters prefer to vote early, while younger persons prefer to vote in-person on election day.
Election Day Registration Election day registration allows voters to register or update their registration at the polls on Election Day and then cast a regular ballot. States with EDR have consistently higher voter participation rates In 2012, states with EDR had an average turnout of 71.3%; this was 12.5% higher than the turnout in states without EDR. All EDR states had voter turnout above the national average.
Election Day Registration States that allow election day registration: Colorado2013 California2012 Connecticut2012 Idaho1994 Iowa2007 Maine1973 Minnesota1974 Montana2005 New Hampshire1996 Wisconsin1975 Wyoming1994
Campaign Finance “Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated!” Will Rogers “Money makes the mare go.” Lyndon B. Johnson “There are two things that matter in politics. The first is money. I can’t remember the second.” Mark Hanna
Campaign Finance Election campaigns are expensive, so candidates need to raise plenty of money to be competitive. The amount of money raised could be the deciding factor in the campaign as over 90% of congressional candidates who raise the most money are victorious. The Texas “record” for spending belongs to Tony Sanchez who in 2002 spent over $60 million (most of it his own money) and lost his race for governor. Many Texans are qualified to hold public office, but relatively few can pay their own campaign expenses.
Campaign Finance Candidates need money to hire a campaign staff, cover overhead expenses, purchase advertising, and pay for travel. They hire: consultants to plan strategy pollsters to assess public reaction to candidates and issues media consultants to develop an advertising campaign field organizers to get out the vote opposition researchers to dig for dirt on opponents internet consultants to design websites and fundraisers to find the cash to pay for it all
Campaign Finance Other money goes for campaign literature, office space, postage, telephones, polling, and consulting fees. The single largest item in a big-time campaign budget is media, especially television. a weeks worth of television advertising in the major media markets costs more than $1.5 million a 30 second spot in the ten o’clock news in Dallas is about $5,000 a 30 second spot during prime time runs upwards of $20,000 a 60 second radio spot in an early morning drive show runs more than $500
Campaign Finance Most states restrict the amount of money individuals and groups can contribute to candidates for office, but not Texas. Two-thirds of the states limit campaign contributions and one-third provide public funding for campaigns in exchange for voluntary spending limits. Texas law places no limits on campaign contributions or on campaign expenditures for candidates for executive or legislative office Candidates may raise an unlimited amount of money from individuals or PACs as long as they report the names, occupations and employers of people who gave them $500 or more
Campaign Strategy Campaign Goals: 1) Build name recognition (incumbency advantage) a) Some do not need this, e.g., Bush, Kennedy, Yarborough, Gene Kelly. 2) Create a favorable image for the candidate (Perry)(Perry) 3) Create an unfavorable image of your opponent (Perry)(Perry) 4) Get supporters to the polls a) a well organized campaign identifies likely voters and encourages them to vote b) turnout is more important for Democrats than Republicans