Turnout in Constitutional Amendment Elections

Assignment #1: Turnout in Constitutional Amendment Elections

The most common way to amend the Texas Constitution is through the special election process. These constitutional amendment elections are typically held in off-years, and are usually the only items on the ballot. What does this mean for the people’s knowledge of, and participation in, changing our governing document? Let’s find out!

First, read this Texas Tribune article about the 2019 constitutional amendment election: https://www.texastribune.org/2019/11/06/texas-2019-election-voter-turnout/

Go to the “Turnout and Voter Registration” page on the Texas Secretary of State’s webpage:

http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/historical/70-92.shtml

Create a chart that tracks voter turnout for each of the November (general) elections from 2001-2019** (these will be marked as either “General, November (Gubernatorial),” “Special, November (Constitutional),” or “General, November (Presidential).”

Discuss these results, considering the following:

  • Compare and contrast the turnout rates between election types.
  • What do your findings say about the participation rates in Constitutional Amendment elections?
  • Who is likely to benefit from this method of amendment, and who is likely to be disadvantaged?
  • Do you think this is an adequate method of changing a constitution? Why or why not?
  • Assume you are a member of the Texas Legislature: what recommendations would you make to increase the visibility of and participation in these elections?

** Please note: In 2003, the Constitutional amendment election was held in September, rather than November (for reasons I cannot remember). Please include this election, too.

 

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