Political Campaigns Elections in Texas fill national, county, city, and special- district offices Conducting Campaigns in the 21st Century In recent years, the Internet and social media have altered campaigns in the state Character and political style have become more important than the issues A candidate’s physical appearance and personality are increasingly important Due to television becoming the primary mode of campaign communication
Political Campaigns Importance of Media With more than 13.5 million potential voters in 254 counties, Texas is by necessity a media state for political campaigning Radio, television, and the Internet are needed mediums for campaigners in Texas Mudslide Campaigns This expression suggests the reaction of many citizens who are disappointed and somewhat irritated by many Texas candidates’ generally low ethical level of campaigning Their avoidance of critical public issues is also another point of contention
Campaign Reform Reform issues include eliminating negative campaigning, increasing free media access for candidates, and regulating campaign finance Eliminating Negative Campaigns The Markle Commission on the Media and the Electorate has concluded that candidates, media people, consultants, and the electorate are all blameworthy for the increase in negative campaigns. Increasing Free Media Access One group supporting media access reform is the Campaign Legal Center Social media (Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace) have increasingly been used by politicians to reach a larger voter based in the past 10 years
Campaign Reform Campaign Finance Many Texans are qualified to hold public office, but relatively few can afford to pay their own campaign expenses or are unwilling to undertake fundraising drives designed to attract significant campaign contributions. Cost of campaigns Houston City Council ($150,000), Houston Mayoral (at least $2 million) Both federal and state laws have been enacted to regulate various aspects of campaign financing. Texas laws on the subject are relatively weak and tend to emphasize reporting of contributions. Federal laws are more restrictive.
Campaign Reform Campaign Finance Texas Ethics Commission Enforces state standards for lobbyists and public officials, including registration of lobbyists and reporting of political campaign contributions Federal Campaign Reform Act (2002) Restricts donations of “soft money” and “hard money” for election campaigns Soft money – donations made to national political parties for federal elections Hard money – campaign money contributed directly to individuals The Act prohibited soft money and increased contribution limits for hard money Also placed restrictions on corporations’ and labor unions’ ability to run “electioneering” ads featuring candidates they support However, the act has been continually challenged in federal courts
Racial and Ethnic Politics Latinos Most Anglo candidates use Spanish phrases in their speeches, advertise in Spanish-language media (television, radio, and newspapers), and voice their concern for issues important to the Latino community (such as bilingual education and immigration). Just as the political party affiliation of Latino elected officials is divided, so too is the Latino electorate. La Raza Unida (RUP) was the first third party to be formed strictly on ethnic lines in Texas Name literally translates as “Party of the People” Originated from a labor group known as the “Workmen of the World” Founded on 17 Jan. 1970 in Crystal City by Jose Angel Gutierrez
Racial and Ethnic Politics Latinos La Raza Unida Their platform articulated a militancy that denounced white society for the oppression of Texas Mexicans Accused middle-class Mexicans of being too accommodating to white society Followers of the movement promoted ethnic integrity, non-accommodation, and self-determination The party ran Ramsey Muniz for Texas governor in 1972 Polled 6% of the popular vote The party fell to typical third party issues Revolving too much around a single issue Lacked strong organization In 1976, Muniz was convicted of engaging in conspiracy to traffic marijuana
Racial and Ethnic Politics African Americans Since the 1930s, African American Texans have tended to identify with the Democratic Party. With a voting-age population in excess of 1 million, they constitute about 10 percent of the state’s potential voters. As demonstrated in recent electoral contests, approximately 80 percent of Texas’s African American citizens say that they are Democrats, and only 5 percent are declared Republicans. By early 2010 a number of African Americans held elected office 3 statewide positions (RR Commissioner, Chief Justice, and a Justice on the TX Supreme Court) 3 U.S. Representative seats in Texas’ congressional delegation 16 legislative seats in the Texas Legislature More than 500 of the other 5,200 elected positions in the state
Women in Politics Texas women did not begin to vote and hold public office for three-quarters of a century after Texas joined the Union. 2 term governor Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson was one of the most controversial Nevertheless, by 1990, Texas female voters outnumbered male voters. The expanded presence of women in public office is changing public policy. Increased punishment for family violence and sexual abuse of children, together with a renewed focus on public education, can be attributed in large part to the presence of women in policymaking positions.
Voting The U.S. Supreme Court has declared the right to vote the “preservative” of all other rights. For most Texans, voting is their principal political activity. For many, it is their only exercise in practicing Texas politics. Obstacles to Voting Universal suffrage, by which almost all citizens 18 years of age and older can vote, did not become a reality in Texas until the mid-1960s. Although most devices to prevent people from voting have been abolished, their legacy remains.
Voting Obstacles to Voting Literacy Tests Beginning in the 1870s, as a means to prevent minority people from voting, some counties in Texas began requiring prospective voters to take a screening test that conditioned voter registration on a person’s literacy. Tests consisted of different/abstract questions concerning knowledge of the U.S. Constitution or understanding the “issues” of citizenship Literacy Test Sample Pulled from the Constitution of West Texas (1868), Art. VII, Sec. 20 “The Legislature shall have power, and it shall be their duty to protect by law, from forced sale, a certain portion of all heads of families. The homestead of a family, not to exceed two hundred acres of land (not included in a city, town, or village,) or, any city, town, or village, lot or lots, not to exceed in value in either case the sum of three hundred dollars at the time of their designation as a homestead, shall not be subjected to forced sale for debts, except they be for the purchase money thereof, for the taxes assessed thereon, or for labor and materials expended thereon; nor shall the owner, if a married man, be at liberty to alienate the same, unless by the consent of the wife, and in such manner as may be prescribed by law. Provided that this exemption shall not take effect against debts in existence at the time of the destination of the homestead.”
Voting Obstacles to Voting Grandfather Clause Laws with this clause provided that persons who could exercise the right to vote before 1867, or their descendants, would be exempt from educational, property, or tax requirements for voting. Guinn v. U.S. (1915) declared the clause unconstitutional as it violated the equal voting rights clause in the 15th Amendment
Voting Obstacles to Voting Poll Taxes Beginning in 1902, Texas required that citizens pay a special tax, called the poll tax, to become eligible to vote. Known as the “Terrell Election Laws” The cost was $1.75 ($1.50 plus an optional $.25 at the discretion of the county) For over 62 years, low-income individuals in Texas failed to pay their poll tax during the designated four-month period from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31 Disproportionately disenfranchised African Americans and Mexican Americans Ratification of the 24th Amendment abolished the poll tax as a prerequisite for voting in national elections Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966) invalidated all state laws that made payment of a poll tax a prerequisite for voting in state elections
Voting Obstacles to Voting All-White Primaries A product of political and legal maneuvering within the southern states, all-white primaries were designed to deny African Americans and some Latinos access to the Democratic primary.
Voting Obstacles to Voting Racial Gerrymandering Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating legislative district lines to under-represent persons of a political party or group. “Packing” black voters into a given district or “cracking” them to make black voters a minority in all districts both illustrate racial gerrymandering. The Texas Legislative Re-Districting Plan of 2003 was at the center of a dispute between the Department of Justice and the Texas Legislature over this issue Diluting Minority Votes Creating at-large majority districts (each electing two or more representatives) for state legislatures and city councils can prevent an area with a significant minority population from electing a representative of its choice. Federal courts have declared this practice unconstitutional when representation of ethnic or racial minorities is diminished
Voting Obstacles to Voting Voter ID Laws? Texas S.B. 14 82(R) – Voters must present one of the following forms of photo ID the day of an election Driver’s License Election Identification Certificate Department of Public Safety Personal ID Card U.S. Military ID U.S. Citizenship Certificate U.S. Passport Department of Public Safety License to Carry a Concealed Handgun **All forms of ID cannot be expired, or cannot have expired more than 60 days before the election Currently, the law is being challenged under Sec. 5 of the 1965 Voters Rights Act by the U.S. Dept. of Justice
Green - States that require photo IDYellow - States that request photo IDBlue - States that require non-photo IDGrey - States with no voter ID law
Voting Federal Voting Rights Legislation The Voting Rights Act of 1965 expanded the electorate and encouraged voting. Abolishes literacy tests Prohibits residency requirements of more than 30 days for voting Requires states to provide some form of absentee or early voting Allows individuals (or the D.O.J.) to sue in federal court to request voting examiners to be sent to a particular area The Voting Rights Act of 1975 also established new federal policies designed to increase voter turnout among Native Americans and Latinos. In 1993, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act, or motor voter law, which simplified voter registration by permitting registration by mail; or at welfare, disability assistance, and motor vehicle licensing agencies; or at military recruitment centers.
Voting Federal Voting Rights Legislation Amendments to the U.S. Constitution have also expanded the American electorate 15th – Citizens cannot be denied the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (1870) 19th – Citizens cannot be denied the right to vote based on sex (1920) 24th – Prohibits Congress or the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other type of tax (1964) 26th – Set the minimum voting age to 18 (1971)
Voting Voter Turnout Universal suffrage has not resulted in a corresponding increase in voter turnout, either nationally or in Texas. Voter turnout is the percentage of the voting-age population casting ballots. Texas ranks below the national average in voter turnout of the voting- age population. To cure “voter burnout,” the Texas Legislature passed legislation to limit elections to: the 2nd Saturday in May and the first Monday in November This has not significantly yielded a higher turnout Of all the socioeconomic influences on voting, education is by far the strongest. Income, gender, age, and race/ethnicity also affect voting behavior
Voting Administering Elections In Texas, as in other states, determining voting procedures is essentially a state responsibility. The Texas Constitution authorizes the legislature to provide for the administration of elections. State lawmakers, in turn, have made the Secretary of State the chief elections officer for Texas but have left most details of administering elections to county officials.
Voting Administering Elections Qualifications for Voting To be eligible to vote in Texas, a person must meet the following qualifications: Be a native-born or naturalized citizen of the United States Be at least 18 years of age on election day Be a resident of the state and county for at least thirty days immediately preceding election day Be a resident of the area covered by the election on election day Be a registered voter for at least thirty days immediately preceding election day Not be a convicted felon (unless sentence, probation, and parole are completed) Not be declared mentally incompetent by a court of law
Voting Administering Elections Voting Early Texas law allows voters to vote “early” and are limited to in-person early voting, voting by mail, and facsimile machine voting (for military personnel and their dependents in combat zones). Anyone meeting the following requirements can vote by mail-in ballot: Will not be in his/her county of residence during the entire voting period and on election day Is at least age 65 Is/will be physically disabled on election day (including those confined for childbirth on election day) Is in jail (but not a convicted felon) during early voting and on election day Is in the military or a dependent of military personnel and has resided in Texas Since 1998, percentages of early voters has been around 20% in general elections Some studies indicate that longer early voting periods lead to a sharper decline in voter turnout than states with more restrictive voting laws
Voting Administering Elections Voting Precincts The basic geographic area for conducting national, state, district, and county elections is the voting precinct. Each precinct usually contains between 100 and approximately 2,000 registered voters. When a precinct’s population exceeds a number prescribed by the Texas Election Code (between 3,000 to 5,000), the commissioners court must draw new boundaries
Voting Administering Elections Election Officials Various county and political party officials administer elections. This could be the county clerk or elections administrator. Voting Systems In general elections, Texas uses five voting systems: paper ballot, manually operated voting machine, optical scan (like Scantrons), punch-card, and direct-record electronic (or touchscreen). In every county, the county commissioners court determines which system will be used.
Primary, General, and SpecialElections Primary Elections Primaries – preliminary election conducted within the party to select candidates who will run for public office in a subsequent election Principal method now used by political parties to select candidates to run for public office. Development of Direct Primaries The direct primary was designed to provide greater participation by party members and reduce the influence of political bosses. Voters participate directly in the selection of candidates for public office Runoff Primary In most southern states, a majority rather than a plurality is required to win a party primary. This often necessitates a second primary. Held a month after the first primary to allow party members to choose a candidate fro the first primary’s top 2 vote-getters
Primary, General, and SpecialElections Development of Direct Primaries Closed Primary – a primary in which voters must declare their support for the party before they are permitted to vote in the selection of the party’s candidates Most states use some form of this in the United States Open Primary – primary in which voters are not required to declare party identification Voters come to the polls and choose a ballot for any party, regardless of affiliation Jungle Primary – all candidates from all parties compete in a single election. (Essentially, a general election) Candidates who receive 50% of the vote win; a run-off is held 30 days later for races that did not have a candidate who received 50% or more Louisiana is the only state to use this type of primary
Primary, General, and SpecialElections Texas Primaries The primary system in Texas is defined as a closed system because one must be a member of a political party to vote in that party’s primary. Texas political parties gained the opportunity to conduct primaries with the Terrell Election Law of 1905 The Texas primary operates much like an open primary because a voter does not signify his party affiliation until appearing to vote in the primary election. Crossover Voting has been a long-term trend toward voter independence in Texas Practice whereby a person participates in the primary of one party, then votes for one or more candidates of another party in the general election
Primary, General, and SpecialElections Administering Primaries All parties that received 20 percent or more of the votes in the last gubernatorial election must nominate by a direct primary. The party administers primary elections at the county level in accordance with state law. The county executive committee does most of the work in conducting the primary. Primary dates are essentially decided by the Texas Legislature Financing Primaries The cost of the primary is borne by filing fees and by the state. Candidates typically pay around 30% of the cost In lieu of a fee, a nominating petition may be used. Candidates can collect signatures of people eligible to vote for the office for which the candidate is running 5,000 for state office, 500 for precinct, county, and district
Primary, General, and SpecialElections General Elections General elections are public and are administered by the state. They determine which candidate will hold public office. Federal law stipulates the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years for federal/congressional elections Off-year/midterm elections are held in the even-numbered year following a presidential election Special Elections Special elections, on the other hand, are called to fill interim vacancies in legislative and congressional districts. May also be used to vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment or local bond issue