Campaigns and Election

According to Chapter 5 of the textbook, what are some of the historical and more recent barriers to voting in Texas? (Be specific) What accounts for the low level of voter participation in Texas? What could be done to increase voter participation? (Specifically, discuss at least one policy proposal that election officials could adopt or, perhaps, a restriction that they could remove or change.) After the 2020 election, state legislatures controlled by Republicans (including the Texas Legislature) have been debating and passing election reforms. What were some of the proposed changes to election laws in Texas in 2021? Which new laws are now in effect? Note that counties are in charge of administering elections in Texas. How would the proposed or passed laws impact a county’s ability to administer elections? Do you think these changes pose undue restrictions on the ability of Texans to vote? Why or why not? Note: if you choose this topic, you will need to do some online searching in order to learn about the new Texas election laws passed by the Texas legislature and signed into law by Gov. Abbott in 2021.

There are two writing assignments worth 100 points each. The purpose of these essays is to provide students an opportunity to discuss a key concept or topic in Texas politics and to show a basic understanding of academic research and reporting skills. Students should offer evidence for their arguments. Thus, submissions that are more comprehensive and detailed will earn a higher point total. Each assignment should be a minimum of 750 words. Submissions must include a works cited page (note: there must be a parenthetical citation at the end of each sentence that contains information from a source). The textbook should be one of the sources and included on the works cited page (sources other than the textbook should be used as well).
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You should use New Courier or Times New Roman, 12 point font, double-spacing, and one-inch margins on all four sides of the paper. The assignment is to be formatted according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA) style. Students should check the chosen style in order to properly format the assignment (see below – scroll down to the bottom of this page). Include a works cited page but do NOT include a title page.
All writing assignments will be analyzed using SafeAssign. Essays that contain plagiarized material will receive a significant reduction in points or a zero. Students may receive a failing grade in the course for submitting plagiarized material. Do not cut and paste information from an online source or copy information directly from the chapter without using quotations and citing the information.
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Sample Answer

 

Campaigns and Election

This essay focuses on issues relating to elections and campaigns in Texas, United States (U.S.). This topic is important because the state representatives or senators are charged with the responsibility of making laws. They can also ensure that Texas is allocated with adequate federal dollars. In addition, the state representatives also ensure that favorable policies are ratified at the national level. Furthermore, the representatives in Washington lay a key role in influencing and shaping issues such as environmental policy, taxes, health care policy, and education funding.

Barriers to Voting

            Historically, one of the key barriers to voting within Texas is partisanship. A multitude of different elections makes it difficult for the voters to make informed choices, and hence they resort to mental shortcuts such as partisanship. Voters have also been relying on other shortcuts such as ethnicity, gender, and race when voting for their preferred candidates. The other historical barrier has been the requirement that voters participating in either of the two parties in the primary elections cannot vote for their rival party during the runoff primary. Moreover, the closed primary system also restricts voters to the parties they have pledged allegiance to.

In addition, some influential politicians have been arguing against women’s right to vote in Texas. Some of them were against the franchise for women based on the premise that women could not perform the three fundamental duties underpinning citizenship: military services, posse comitatus service, and jury services. It is noteworthy that the franchise concept is used about either the right to vote or the act of voting. The opponents of women’s suffrage believed that women’s morals dictated their beliefs, which they would force on men.

The poll tax was another historical barrier to voting because it often disenfranchised poorer people. It was particularly difficult for farm workers to raise the poll tax and hence could not participate in voting. The poll tax also made poorer people’s voting patterns to be influenced by their bosses. Texas also prohibited people who did not own property from voting in both tax and revenue bond elections. Notably, the White primary banned African Americans from taking part in the voting excises during the primary elections in Texas.

Low Voter Participation

            The nonpartisan nature of the elections of members of various local government entities, including school boards and city councils, has been cited as the key cause of low levels of voter participation in Texas. Particularly, the timing of such elections is different from the state and national elections, which exacerbates the problem of low levels of voter participation.

Other factors that contribute to low voter participation rates in Texas include low education levels, high rate of poverty, low per capita income, young Population, location in the south, a large number of individuals convicted of serious crimes and undocumented residents, absence of party competition, and failure of the media to pay attention to significant political issues. Socioeconomic status (SES), income/poverty, and education are strong major causes of low levels of voter participation in the state. Texas is also dominated by young people who are less likely to vote. Unregistered residents, particularly the Latino Population, cannot vote.

Some leaders have proposed that municipal elections should be moved to November to increase voter participation. It is anticipated that this shift in the timing of the municipal elections can encourage a larger percentage of the voters to participate in the voting exercise.

Changes to Election Laws

            After the 2020 election, Texas officially passed new voting restrictions. In September 2021, Governor Greg Abbot signed Senate Bill 1 (S.B. 1) into law (Ura, 2021). It has been alleged that this new election law will negatively affect voters with disabilities and those of color (Crawford, 2021). It restricts the timing and manner in which voters cast their ballots. On a positive note, the changes introduced by SB1 could expand access to the ballot through early voting hours (Ura, 2021). It increases rules relating to voting-by-rail and grants partisan watches free movement inside polling places, increasing their autonomy (Crawford, 2021). Some of the proposed changes that took effect include the provisions that sought to limit voting on Sundays and those that sought to make it easier to overturn elections (Lopez, 2021).

One of the laws that are currently in effect is the one that bans 24-hour voting. Counties can conduct their voting exercises from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. the other law prohibits drive-thru voting. In addition, there is a law that mandates voters who are aged over 65 years their identification (I.D.) before engaging in vote-by-mail (Bradner, 2021). The ID includes the Social Security number’s last four digits and the driver’s license number. The other provision of the law prohibits public officials from sending unsolicited main-in ballot applications. In addition, a law grants partisan poll watchers to monitor poll closing activities. Furthermore, the people assisting persons with disabilities, apart from their caregivers, must identify themselves by filling in their details such as relationships, addresses, and names in a document (Bradner, 2021). The law also requires the secretary of the office f the state to conduct monthly voter roll checks every month to ensure those who declared that they were not citizens while renewing their I.D. cards or driver’s license are not included in the voter rolls.

Impact on Country’s Ability

The new Texas election laws limit the ability of counties to expand their voting options, hence introducing further constraints on the local control of elections and tightening the election laws at the state level (Corasaniti, 2021). The law also limits the discretion of county officials to adopt secure and safe methods of voting (Crawford, 2021).

Undue Restrictions

Yes. I think that the new changes introduced by S.B. 1 pose undue restrictions on the Texans’ ability to participate in voting. This is because it makes it difficult for eligible voters to receive the much-needed assistance while voting, especially people with disabilities. It also subjects voters to unnecessary administrative and surveillance bureaucracies.

 

 

References

Bradner, E. (2021). The new Texas voting law includes these seven major changes. Cable News Network (CNN). Retrieved on August 5, 2022, from https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/07/politics/what-texas-voting-bill-does/index.html

Corasaniti, N. (2021). Abbot signs Texas election law ending a fierce voting rights battle. New York Times. Retrieved on August 3, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/us/politics/greg-abbott-texas-voting-rights-law.html

Crawford, L. (2021). Texas S.B. 1 discriminates against voters of color. Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Retrieved on August 3, 2022, from https://www.lawyerscommittee.org/texass-sb-1-discriminates-against-voters-of-color/

Lopez, A. (2021). Here is what’s in Texas republicans’ new voting law. NPR. Retrieved on August 5, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2021/07/09/1014579306/texas-republicans-have-a-new-voting-bill-heres-whats-in-it

Ura, A. (2021). Gov Greg Abbot signs Texas voting bill into law, overcoming democratic quorum breaks. The Texas Tribute. Retrieved on August 3, 2022, from https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/01/texas-voting-bill-greg-abbott/

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