Past and More Recent Barriers to Voting in Texas

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In the past, one barrier to voting in Texas was the exclusion of women from participating as voters. In 1918, the women were finally allowed to take part in the party and primary convention in Texas. Additionally, in 1920, the women in Texas were permitted to vote in all elections as a result of the US Constitutions’ 19th Amendment. However, some Texas politicians were opposed to the news of women voting. They claimed that women should not be allowed to vote since they could not perform the duties of citizenship, such as military service and jury service. Nonetheless, in 1919, Texas became the first Southern State to embrace women as voters. Thus, this describes one past barrier to voting in Texas. Another hurdle was the poll tax. In the 19th century, poor people could not afford to vote due to the poll tax, which took effect in 1902. To cover for election-related costs, Texas introduced a poll tax, where people had to pay before casting their ballot. The fee was about $1.50 and $1.75, which was equivalent to three days wage for an average farmer. Thus, this poll tax posed as a barrier to voting in the State of Texas.

Another barrier to voting in Texas was the requirement of early registration for the voters. After the poll tax was eliminated, Texas still called for early registration for voting. The State required that all eligible voters should register with the State nine months before any general election is held. This requirement placed itinerant workers at a disadvantage. Also, Texas prohibited individuals with no property to take part in voting. More so, it required a long period of residency in the State for one to be allowed to vote. Thus, this discussion describes the barriers to voting in Texas.

What Accounts For the Low Level of Voter Participation in Texas

One reason for the low level of voter participation in Texas is because the State’s immigrant population tends to cut into the voter pool. Texas is home to over 4.7 million immigrants. Thus, Texas is ranked in the seventh position among states with the hugest percentage of citizens born outside the US (Ura & Murphy). A third of those immigrants are naturalized citizens. Consequently, they are eligible voters. The rest cannot participate in an election since they are categorized as non-citizens – undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents. Thus, due to the immigrant’s status, a drop in the number of eligible voters is witnessed.

Another reason for the low level of voter participation in Texas is attributed to the fact that the State’s voter turnout fluctuates by age. Ideally, older Texans participate more in elections. Generally, Texas is regarded as a “young state” since the most significant percentage of the population is made up of youths. However, older Texans participate more in both gubernatorial and presidential elections. Individuals aged 65+ account for the highest turnout rate, followed by those between the ages of 45 to 64. Thus, the younger generation, which accounts for the most significant percentage of citizens in Texas, have poor voter participation. Therefore, this leads to a low level of voter participation in the State.

Another reason for the low level of voter participation in Texas is SES (Social Economic Status). In the State, high poverty levels accompanied by low education levels lead to low voter participation. Additionally, Texas has a traditionally decentralized government. Because of this, the State has too many elections and candidates vying for positions. Under these circumstances, the voters feel overloaded. If the State had fewer elections, the voter turnout could increase because voters will be fascinated by some races. Thus, this discussion reveals the reasons for the low level of voter participation in Texas.

How to Increase Voter Participation in the State

To increase voter participation in Texas, several policies will have to be implemented. First, the State needs to endorse same-day voter registration, where eligible voters can register and vote on the same day. Reports suggest that states that are ranked lower than 35th when it comes to voter turnout lack same-day voter registration. In Texas, eligible voters are required to register one month before elections begin. Figures suggest that states which have implemented same-day registration tend to have a voter turnout advantage when compared to states which have not implemented the policy. Second, Texas should implement automatic voter registration for individuals who attain the legal age of voting. Thus, when teenagers turn 18, they will be added automatically into the voting pool. A particular study revealed that about 2 million Texan voters could be added through automatic voter registration. Thus, this discussion illustrates how Texas can increase voter participation.

In 2017, Texas passed legislation aimed at eliminating straight-ticket voting, starting with the forthcoming presidential elections in 2020. As far as the elimination of straight-ticket voting is concerned, I agree with this. In this mode of voting, the people of Texas press one button to vote for every Democrat or Republican. In the 2016 election, about 64% of people living in Texas voted using a straight ticket. This means that they voted for their preferred party, and not their fancied individuals. Thus, some candidates can lose elections due to straight-ticket voting. For instance, the son of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick blamed straight-ticket Democratic voting for his failed re-election bid. More so, some Republican judges in the State were losing the election because this voting mode encouraged straight Democratic voting. Therefore, this shows why I support the elimination of straight-ticket voting.

Works Cited

  1. Champagne, Anthony, Edward Harpham, and Jason Casellas. Governing Texas. 4th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2019. Print.
  2. Ura, Alexa, and Ryan Murphy. “Why is Texas voter turnout so low? Demographics play a big role.” THE TEXAS TRIBUNE, [Austin], 23 Feb. 2018.
  3. Young, Stephen. “Voting in Texas Still Broken, New Report Says.” Dallas Observer, [Dallas], 21 Mar. 2019.

Cite this paper

Past and More Recent Barriers to Voting in Texas. (2020, Oct 31). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/past-and-more-recent-barriers-to-voting-in-texas/

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