Govt 2306 ch_5


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Texas Government (GOVT 2306) -- Elections

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Govt 2306 ch_5

  1. 1. Elections GOVT 2306 Chapter 5
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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.
  11. 11. 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.
  12. 12. 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.”
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. Check my SlideShare page (rfair07) for more lectures Lectures posted for:  United States History before 1877 / after 1877  Texas History  United States (Federal) Government / Texas Government  Slide 15 of 30  To download a full copy of this PowerPoint presentation, please go to:   If you would like a copy of all the Texas Government lectures posted in PDF format, please check out at: 