Texas Voters

Published: 29th September 2009
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Copyright (c) 2009 James Holan

Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the United States. Since the year 2000 hit it has dropped farther and farther down the list and now ranks fifth to last since the 2008 election. Even in such a historical election such as the Obama versus McCain election, Texans seemed to barely be able to get out of bed to vote. It is not subjective either; neither men nor women seem to be able to vote in the state of Texas. Both sexes rank very low on the voter scale. Reasons for low voter turnout range from people not wanting to register to a decline in party identification. In the case of low voter turnout rate in Texas, it can be said that Texas has one of the lowest ranking voter turnout rates in the country due to socioeconomic factors, political structure, and previous voter struggles.

In the recent election of 2008 the voter turnout rate for Texas was slightly above that of Utah that ranked fourth to last, Arkansas that ranked third to last, West Virginia that ranked second to last, and Hawaii that ranked last (2008). Although Texas is above four other states with how bad its voter turnout rate is, it is still in very poor shape with only fifty-five percent of its residents actually voting. Whereas the state with the highest voter turnout rate, Minnesota, is nearly twenty percent higher at seventy-eight point one percent of its residents turning out to vote at the previous election (2008). At the same time the percentage of women voters in Texas is also one of the lowest of the nation with only forty-one point seven percent of female Texans voting. This ranks it forty-ninth out of fifty in the amount of female voters for the state (2008). What makes this truly horrible is the fact that the turnout rate for women in the state of Texas is actually higher than men as of the 2000 election. Once again Minnesota has the highest amount of female voters reaching nearly sixty-seven percent of its female population (2008). What are the reasons for low voter turnout in Texas and why are there more female voters in the state of Texas than there are male voters?

One of the biggest reason for low voter turnout in the State of Texas goes back mainly to socioeconomic factors. Since Texas has such a high poverty level there are naturally a lot of people who are too worried about money to be concerned with voting. This also contributes to the reason most minorities do not vote in the state of Texas. Since three out of ten people who fall into the minority category in Texas are considered at the poverty level, there is bound to be a decrease in minority voter turnout (Kolsti, 2006). It appears that people who are in poverty do not turn out to vote. This might has something to do with the lack of education among those who sit at the poverty level. In the state of Texas "one of five Texans over the age of twenty-five never graduated from high school (Wlezien, 2003)." People who have not achieved a high school diploma are five times less likely to vote than those who have graduated or at least obtained their GED or high school equivalence. Thus, if Texas has a high percentage of impoverish adults and adults with a limited education, the state becomes more likely to have a low voter turnout rate compared to other states were there is a lower poverty level such as Minnesota, which also has a higher rate of high school graduates (Kolsti, 2006).

Another major reason the state of Texas has a low voter turnout rate is its strange political structure. Texas uses the Long Ballot system, which means that a standard ballot in the state of Texas can have anywhere from one-hundred and fifty to two-hundred candidate names on it (Wlezien, 2003). By having so many people on one ballot Texas actually deters its residents from wanting to vote. The average person would never want to have to choose one person out of hundreds of people; the decision is just too much for any one person to make. At the same time Texas offers too many elections, which is unappealing to the average voter. Instead of voting on primarily big issues, Texans are asked to vote on everything from boards to bonds (Wlezien, 2003). Most people are uninterested in voting on such small, although important, parts of the political system, instead they wish to vote for bigger things like mayor, president, or judges. By putting so many things into Texas elections Texas stops the voter from wanting to participate in the electoral process.

Finally, the last and perhaps saddest reason the average Texan does not vote goes back to previous struggles and deterrents' for voting. Over the history of voting there have been many different types of deterrents for men, women, youth, and minorities. Some people do not vote for this very reason, they think that they do not have the right to vote or should not both because of their sex or their race. Although these voting barriers have been removed such as the twenty-sixth amendment, which changed the voting age to 18, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed most discriminatory voting practicies and the removal of poll taxes, which were designed to keep people in poverty from voting, Texans and most Southern states still have a low voter turnout (Wlezien, 2003). Perhaps the reason for this is that they still feel that they do not have the right to vote even though laws have been changed to give them that right. Whatever their reason for not voting, however, the fact still stands that they now have the ability to vote and have every right just like any other person to vote. With this in mind, why do these people not vote? Perhaps it goes back to poverty or the strange way in which the Texas political system is structured, whatever the reason there needs to be a change.

Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the United States. Although many reasons are given to explain these low standards such as, poverty, lack of education, strange political structures, and past discrimination movements affecting today's voters, there is still no definite reason why voters in the state of Texas do not vote. No matter why the voter of Texas does not participate, however, the fact still stands Texans need to vote.

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