Tag Archives: voter turnout

Texas turnout: a stinker

Here is how the Texas Tribune led a story about the voter turnout in this week’s midterm primary election: Around 17% of registered voters in Texas cast a ballot in the 2022 primary, according to preliminary turnout data from the secretary of state. 

The Tribune noted also that the turnout this year was greater than the six previous midterm elections. However, I now will throw a huge dose of cold water on it.

The “registered voters” barometer is a ruse. When you factor in the number of Texans who are “eligible” to vote, but who don’t even bother to register, then the turnout nosedives into the crapper.

This is a shameful exhibition of apathy that spells potential disaster for the state of governance in Texas.

Texas, tragically, is among the lowest-turnout states in the entire U.S. of A. Seventeen percent of registered voters sought fit to cast their ballots, either early or on Election Day, to choose who their party’s nominees would be for a host of important public offices.

That is fewer than one in five Texans. The percentage plunges even more when you measure the turnout of eligible voters.

So very sad.


Ceding power to the few

Good job, Texas voters — or should I say “non-voters.” You appear headed to a new level of apathy, laced with ignorance.

The word we’re getting is that Primary Election Day 2022 is going to conclude after 7 p.m. with a single-digit turnout among Texas Republicans and Democrats. You know what that means, I am sure. I’ll remind those who need reminding what it means to me.

It means that rather than taking these important decisions seriously and taking care of issues by ourselves, many of us are going to leave those decisions to those they don’t know. Those who might harbor vastly different political philosophies than you do.

I long have said that good government works best when more of us take part in nominating and electing those who we deem fit to represent our interests in government. It works less well when we leave those decisions up to others.

To borrow a phrase from the Marine Corps, those of us who vote in these elections are “the few and the proud.” That’s fine if you are recruiting men and women to fight our battles; it’s not fine if we leave these decisions to someone else.

This is Round One of the 2022 election season. The Main Event will occur in November. That won’t produce any great shakes, either.

Abysmal, man. Just abysmal.


Low turnout on tap … oh, joy!

As if the Texas legislative Republican caucus needed reasons to suppress voter turnout in this state. Early indications from the state elections office tells us turnout for this year’s midterm primary election is going to typically abysmal.

As of this past Thursday, only 2.7% percent of eligible voters had cast their votes early.

Just so you know — as if you need reminding — we’re going to vote on a whole array of statewide offices. The governor’s contest is the main event. Texans so far are showing little interest in casting their votes in either party primary.

OK, just so you know: I am going to wait until Election Day to cast my votes. I detest early voting and since we will be around on March 1, we’ll vote on the day of the election.

I keep yapping about this every election cycle, so forgive me for repeating myself.

I am weary of reading about hideously low voter turnout in this state. We’re likely to have single-digit percentage turnouts in both party primaries. That’s ridiculous, as in the cause for ridicule. Do you get my drift? People around the world are dying for the chance to vote. We get the chance to cast our ballots to have a tangible voice in what our government should do on our behalf, and we look the other way.

We leave these decisions to the folks next door, or to the strangers at the grocery store, or the guy at the other end of the church pew.

That isn’t how representative democracy is supposed to work.

I do not want to get the government that the other guy chooses.


Why the disinterest?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

An earlier post on this blog saluted the “courtesy” that Princeton City Hall gave to its residents with a significant credit in their monthly water bill.

I intended to call attention to local governments’ ability to respond to taxpayers’ needs in time of suffering. Princeton answered the call.

Now, for my point: It is that government at the local level often is the most responsive and its actions have the most direct impact on citizens’ lives. Thus, it baffles me that local government elections usually draw such little attention among voters.

Local government responds | High Plains Blogger

You know what I’m talking about. Voter turnout for municipal elections often languishes in the single digits. That is, fewer than 10 percent of those who are registered to vote bother to actually vote. I have witnessed this astonishing apathy play out over and over again during by 37 years as a daily print journalist. I watched it happen in Oregon City, Ore., in Beaumont, Texas, and in Amarillo, Texas, where I worked before retiring and moving to Princeton. It’s happened here, too.

Texas is going to the polls again on May 1. We will choose our city government and school district elected leaders. Will many of us even bother to vote? Hah! I am not holding my breath.

And that is the ongoing shame of our democratic process.

The 2020 presidential election produced an astonishing turnout among registered voters, something on the order of 65 percent. The raw numbers of voters, more than 158 million, also was staggering. Don’t misunderstand me. Presidential elections are important as well. However, presidents and those we send to Congress make decisions that occasionally have little to do with our daily lives.

City council members decide how much property taxes we pay; they make decisions on the quality of police and fire protection, on our parks, whether we have streets lights in our neighborhoods and, yes, whether we have potable running water. School board trustees decide how much to pay public school teachers, which has a direct impact on our property taxes, the books our children and grandchildren read, the curriculum they study.

I am not suggesting we should treat national elections with the apathy we demonstrate at the local level. I am suggesting that local races deserve at least as much of our attention as those elections farther up the electoral pecking order.

Texas in the presidential mix … who knew?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s so nice to see the nation talking positively about Texas, which — to be candid — isn’t usually the case in this modern world.

We usually find ourselves on the front pages when there’s a mass shooting at a church, shopping mall or a school; or when the state’s Republican Party hierarchy doesn’t something stupid.

These days, Texas is the talk of the nation. Why? Because we are setting the early-voting pace that other states are trying to match.

I saw a report tonight that said Texans have cast nearly 86 percent of all the ballots we cast in the 2016 election. We still have two days to go before the end of early voting; plus, we have Election Day balloting.

What does this mean? It could mean that Texas will be among the leaders in voter turnout when we count all the presidential election ballots rather than among the worst-performing states.

This is good news at any level I can imagine.

I said for years when I was writing opinion pieces for newspapers in Amarillo and Beaumont that one of the keys to good government must be vast voter participation. I used to caution residents of both communities about the danger of letting others make key political decisions for them; they might not share your views, I would say.

It looks for all the world that in Texas, as well as in many states, that voters are taking these get-out-the-vote pleas quite seriously.

It fills me with pride to hear the media talk about Texas’s pace-setting early vote totals in tones that suggest that other states should emulate what we are doing here.

Big voter roll in Texas? Will they turn out?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I understand Texas set a record for registered voters, with 17 million Texans now eligible to vote in the 2020 election.

Good deal, yes? Of course it is!

Except for this little factoid: Texas historically has been one of the worst-performing states in the Union with respect to voter participation.

Our state turnout generally registers below the national average, which in itself isn’t great. Something like 60 percent of Americans voted for president in 2016. The Texas turnout was less than 50 percent.

We are getting a major push most from Democrats to “vote!” They want more of us to take part to defeat Donald Trump, boot him out of the White House and end this ridiculous experiment of electing an ostensible non-politician to the nation’s highest political office.

It’s good to know we have managed to register a lot of folks to vote for president this year and beyond. That’s only part of the story.

The more important chapter will be written if all 17 million of us turn out to vote. That won’t happen, but it would be gratifying to see us get somewhere close to that mark.

More, not fewer, voters make democracy work

One of the obligatory editorials I would write back when I was a working stiff involved seeking to get voters to get off their duffs and do their duty as citizens of this great country.

Their duty involved voting. One of the arguments I sought to make at three newspapers where I wrote these opinion pieces was a straightforward one: More voters, not fewer of them, create a stronger democratic system.

Thus, when I hear arguments from mostly Republican officials who want to suppress voter participation, why, it just infuriates me to no end.

GOP officials in Texas and elsewhere are flinging the red herring about “rampant voter fraud” by opposing mail-in voting. What they really intend to do is to prevent voters from casting ballots particularly in this frightening moment … with the world reeling from the global coronavirus pandemic.

This bit of idiocy even came from the nation’s No. 1 Republican, Donald “Imbecile in Chief” Trump, who said mail-in voting — in addition to promoting voter fraud — would doom Republicans from getting elected. Keep that in mind. I’ll get back to that.

A federal judge recently ruled that Texans who fear coming down with the COVID-19 virus by voting in person on Election Day are free to cast their ballots by mail; the U.S. Fifth Circuit of Appeals, though, put the brakes on the judge’s ruling. So we’re now back to Square One.

Republicans in Texans, led by Attorney General Ken Paxton, appear more frightened at the prospect of more voters taking part in an all-mail election. Paxton hides behind the bogus notion of “widespread voter fraud.” The five states that conduct their elections by mail-in voting report no evidence of rampant fraudulent voting. Is there some voter fraud? Sure. There also is fraudulent voting when citizens cast their ballots on Election Day — in polling booths.

Back to my fundamental point. My argument about more voters making for a stronger democratic system than fewer of them holds up now as it has all along.

Paltry voter turnouts undeniably hand more power to fewer people. They deny consensus decisions. They result in voters ceding the power granted to them in the U.S. Constitution to someone who might feel differently about issues and candidates.

Thus, if we are facing an ongoing global pandemic, I want there to be a mail-in option to ensure greater voter turnout. I want a stronger, not a weaker, democratic system.

Low turnout: It’s infectious and it needs to end

I guess Dallas municipal and school board voters are infected with the same disease that has plagued those in many other communities throughout the state. They don’t turn out to vote.

In today’s Dallas Morning News, columnist Robert Wilonsky notes the disinterest in the 2019 municipal election in south Dallas. “Despair is a hell of a disease,” he quotes a south Dallas resident in a column about the growth explosion that is underway in north Dallas regions. “It’s prevailing here. It doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be. It’s just here. And it’s in the way.”

Indeed. It’s in the way of progress.

I now will cast my gaze northwest from Dallas to Amarillo, another community about which I’ve commented frequently relating to its usually dismal municipal and school board election turnout.

Hey, guess what. That might change this weekend. What is the driver? It might be the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees election, where two incumbents from an embattled school board are standing for re-election.

AISD has gone through a tumultuous time starting with the resignation of Kori Clements as head coach of the Amarillo High School Sandies girls volleyball team. The school board has gotten an earful from constituents — and from this blog — about how it conducted itself prior to and in the wake of Clements’ resignation.

Clements said the school board and the administration didn’t back her while she fended off alleged interference from a parent who was upset over the playing time being given to her daughters.

Two incumbents are running for re-election. This election has the potential of producing a judgment from voters about how the board has handed this matter. When there’s controversy, I’ve noted over many years, there’s bound to be ramped-up voter interest.

I hope that’s the case in Amarillo.

Will it spill over to the City Council election that also occurs on Saturday? One can hope that the city and the school system will decided its local leadership with far more than a single-digit turnout, which too often is the case.

I long have noted that local elections are most meaningful for voters. They mean more in terms of decisions that affect voters directly than any other electoral level.

I am sorry to read about Dallas enduring the moribund turnouts that affect communities in Texas. I will continue to argue for greater turnout at this level of government.

Moreover, I will hold out some hope that Amarillo might shake itself loose from this desultory trend in just a few days.

Hey, if it takes some voter anger to awaken the “bosses,” the folks who pay the bills, then so be it.

Beto on Texas vote turnout: It’s a conspiracy?

Readers of this blog know that I admire Beto O’Rourke, the former West Texas congressman who nearly got elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018.

However, I believe the young man is mistaken when he offers this reason — as published in this Twitter message — for the historically low voter turnout in Texas. He blames it on some sort of conspiracy by “those in power.”

Hmm. Here’s my take on it.

I believe Texans at times suffer from a case of “voter fatigue.” It’s also a bit of a cultural phenomenon that afflicts suppressed voter turnout here. The lowest percentage of turnouts occur in states that formerly comprised the Old Confederacy. Does that mean we care less about the health of our form of government that citizens who live in high-turnout states such as Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington? No, it doesn’t mean that all.

Texas’ Constitution establishes a lot of electoral offices. We vote for our entire slate of statewide constitutional offices every four years; those elections occur during those “midterm” years. We vote for municipal and school district offices every odd-numbered year. If we live in a community college district, we get to vote on boards of regents, too!

O’Rourke blames this lack of turnout on the ability of “those in power” to suppress voter participation. I believe that is an overly cynical view.

I remain a voting traditionalist. I prefer to vote on Election Day when I’ll be at home. I am no fan of vote by mail, which some states require; it’s been said that the high turnout in Oregon and Washington is a direct result of those states’ mail-voting provisions.

I would like to see Election Day turned into a national holiday. I would like to see state, local and federal governments conduct intensive public-service campaigns to encourage voter turnout.

As a voting junkie, I enjoy the prospect of standing in line at my polling place and waiting my turn to exercise my constitutional right of citizenship.

I just cannot buy into Beto’s belief that the lack of turnout in Texas is the result of some dark conspiracy.

What now? Well, Beto might run for president in 2020. Maybe he can channel the enthusiasm he generated in his near-miss loss for the U.S. Senate in Texas into a national wave. That would dispel any conspiratorial notion, correct?

Turnout spikes dramatically; democracy wins!

The official totals have yet to be tabulated, but the turnout in this week’s midterm election suggests that democracy has emerged as the big winner.

I won’t discuss the Democrats’ net gain to grab control of the U.S. House of Representatives, or the Republicans’ maintaining their control of the U.S. Senate, or the results of the various governors’ races around the country.

More than 100 million Americans cast ballots for all 435 House races and for one-third of the 100-member Senate. The number is increasing as ballots continue to be counted in places like Arizona, Florida and Georgia.

This is a good deal, man! It’s so good that my faith in our representative democratic form of government is being restored a little at a time.

Texas, where I live, long has been considered an abysmal example of voter apathy. Our turnouts for presidential and off-year elections generally has been among the worst in the nation. This year we had more than 8 million votes cast for races up and down the political food chain. The number of ballots counted for the midterm rivaled the number cast in the 2016 presidential election.

I long have argued that our system of government works better when more of us — not fewer of us — get involved. The most basic, the simplest form of political involvement starts at the polling place.

Arguably the height of political frustration occurs when we let our neighbors make critical decisions for us. Our neighbors might agree with us, or they might disagree with us. That’s a gamble I am unwilling to take.

I am glad to presume that in this election cycle, more Americans have reached the same conclusion, that they aren’t willing to leave these decisions to someone else.