Texans are going to vote Nov. 3 on 11 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.
Well, at least they’re being asked to vote. Only a fraction of us will. And by “fraction,” I mean oh, maybe 10 percent of those who are registered to vote. The number plummets when you factor in those who are eligible to vote, but who don’t bother to register.
Which begs the question: What is the point?
State law requires Texans to vote on these amendments. But given that so few of us actually vote, the exercise is rendered virtually meaningless. Is a 60 percent majority on a measure that draws 10 percent of the electorate a mandate on anything? No.
I’m beginning to believe that Texans are suffering from a terminal case of election fatigue. We vote on everything, which is the way the state’s founders crafted our constitution. They didn’t want to give the Legislature or the governor too much power, so they said, in effect, “Let’s give the people the right to vote on this stuff. That way, no one in elected or appointed office has to take the hickey if the law turns out to be a clunker.”
I’m guessing they were a bit more elegant in their explanation back then, but you get the idea.
Here’s a thought. Let’s revamp the Constitution to have it look more like the federal document. Give our elected reps and our governor more authority, and then hold them accountable when they mess up.
But first, though, the state has to come up with an answer to this very real dilemma: Giving the Legislature some real authority means paying legislators some real money. As it is, they make $7,200 annually, plus a per diem allowance of $168 daily when the Legislature is in session. That isn’t enough to put beans on the table by itself, let alone putting additional power in lawmakers’ hands.
It certainly is preferable to watching a mere handful of Texans decide the fate of governance in a state of 24 million people.