Texas Voting History - History

Texas Voting History - History


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184817,000Zachary Taylor5,28131.1Lewis Cass11,64468.5
185220,223Frankilin Pierce14,85773.5Winfield Scott5,35626.5
185648,005James Buchann31,99566.6John Fremont1601033.4
186062,855Abraham Lincoln47,45475.5Stephen Douglas15,38324.5
1864Abraham LincolnGeorge McClelan
1868Ulysses GrantHoratio Seymour
1872115,700Ulysses Grant47,91041.4Horace Greeley67,67558.5
1876151,431Rutherford Hayes45,01329.7Samuel Tilden106,37270.2
1880233,632James Garfield50,21721.5Winfield Scott156,01066.8
1884321,242Grover Cleveland223,20969.5James Blaine91,23428.4
1888354,412Benjamin Harrison88,60425Grover Cleveland232,18965.5
1892410,860Grover Cleveland236,97957.7Benjamin Harrison70,98217.3
1896541,018William McKinley163,89430.3William Bryant370,30868.4
1900424,334William McKinley131,17430.9William Bryant267,94563.1
1904233,609Theo. Roosevelt51,30722Alton Parker167,08871.5
1908292,913William Taft65,60522.4William Bryant216,66274
1912300,961Woodrow Wilson218,92172.7Theo. Roosevelt26,7158.9
1916373,310Woodrow Wilson287,41577Charles Hughes64,99917.4
1920486,109Warren Harding114,65823.6James Cox287,92059.2
1924657,054Calvin Coolidge130,79419.9John Davis483,38173.6
1928717,733Herbert Hoover372,32451.9Alfred Smith344,54248
1932717,733Franklin Roosevelt372,32451.9Herbert Hoover344,54248
1936849,701Franklin Roosevelt739,95287.1Alfred Landon104,66112.3
19401,124,437Franklin Roosevelt909,97480.9Wendell Will212,69218.9
19441,150,334Franklin Roosevelt821,60571.4Thomas Dewey191,42316.6
19481,249,577Harry Truman824,23566Thomas Dewey303,46724.3
19522,075,946Dwight Eisenhower1,102,87853.1Adlai Stevenson969,22846.7
19561,955,168Dwight Eisenhower1,080,61955.3Adlai Stevenson859,95844
19602,311,084John F Kennedy1,167,56750.5Richard Nixon1,121,31048.5
19642,626,811Lyndon Johnson1,663,18563.3Barry Goldwater958,56636.5
19683,079,216Richard Nixon1,227,84439.9Hubert Humphrey1,266,80441.1
19723,471,281Richard Nixon2,298,89666.2George McGovern1,154,28933.3
19764,071,884Jimmy Carter2,082,31951.1Gerald Ford1,953,30048
19804,541,636Ronald Reagan2,510,70555.3Jimmy Carter1,881,14741.4
19845,397,571Ronald Reagan3,433,42863.6Walter Mondale1,949,27636.1
19885,427,410George Bush3,036,82956Michael Dukais2,352,74843.3
19926,154,018Bill Clinton2,281,81537.1George Bush2,496,07140.6
19965,565,263William Clint2,455,73544.13Bob Dole2,731,99849.09%
2000640,637George W Bush3,799,63959.3Al Gore2,433,74638
20047,410,765George W Bush4,526,91761.1John Kerry2,832,70438.2
20088,069,291Barack Obama3,528,63343.7%John McCain4,479,32855.5%

Presidential voting trends in Texas

A bellwether is any indicator or predictor of something. In presidential electoral politics, states may be considered bellwethers of future electoral outcomes because of how many times they have voted for the winning candidate or party. Below is an analysis of Texas's voting record in presidential elections from 1900 to 2020. The state's accuracy is based on the number of times the state has voted for the winning presidential candidate. The majority of statistical data is from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and compiled, here, by Ballotpedia, unless otherwise noted.


What If They Held an Election and Everyone Came?

How Texas’s 150-year history of voter suppression has brought us to this moment—and what we can do to save our elections.

If the health of a democracy can be measured by how many citizens participate in the political process, Texas has lupus. Voter turnout rates here range from very bad to abysmal. In 2014 just 28 percent of eligible Texas voters cast a ballot, a record low, placing the state forty-eighth in the national ranking. (Thank you, Indiana. Thank you, New York.) Turnout has grown since then, at a rate that has shocked many observers. Yet even the unusually busy 2018 midterms resulted in us soaring . . . to forty-second in the nation.

If that wounds your Texas pride, know that thriving elections have never been of particular concern to state leaders. Rather, dismal participation rates are a feature, not a bug. The system is working just as those in power want it to work. In some nations, elections are sacred, and governments go to great lengths to encourage, and even mandate, voting. In Australia, run by a center-right government, turnout in federal elections is north of 90 percent.

Through their actions, state leaders have long showed that they believe too many Texans are voting rather than too few and that voting is too convenient and safe rather than too burdensome and risky. This long-running attempt to correct for the problem of too much democracy has taken many forms&mdashso many that it can be difficult to keep up with them all. But the activity has intensified in the last few years. Texas Republicans have attempted to purge voter rolls, forced polling places to close, fought to keep voter registration difficult, and punished minor violations of election law with draconian prison sentences.

But most astonishingly, state leaders have worked tirelessly this year to ensure that most voters will have to cast ballots in person, during a once-in-a-century pandemic that has already killed more than 16,000 Texans. Early in the COVID-19 crisis, some local election administrators sought to make mail ballots widely available, in line with the recommendations of all credible public health experts. With months to go, state government could have worked with local officials to figure out how to address the relatively minor issues around ballot security. Instead, Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Republican Party of Texas have fought every step of the way to stop the expansion of mail-in voting beyond the elderly, disabled, and those in jail&mdashknowing that the fall may see another big spike in infections. In good times, Texas government officials seek to make voting difficult. In this very bad year, they&rsquore making it a death-defying act.

All these actions are couched by the GOP as an attempt to keep elections fair and eliminate &ldquovoter fraud.&rdquo Republicans, of course, have run Texas for almost two decades. If there&rsquos widespread fraud in Texas elections, one would think they&rsquod have found it by now&mdashand fixed it. But they profess to have made no headway in eliminating the threat. As with the chupacabra, voter fraud is greatly feared but rarely seen.

The 2020 election looks to be one of the most severe stress tests American democracy has ever faced&mdashand it&rsquos the most up-in-the-air election Texas has seen in decades, with control of the Legislature and a raft of competitive congressional districts in play and the Democratic presidential nominee polling here within the margin of error. It&rsquos vital that the machinery of democracy isn&rsquot gummed up, that the results can be trusted, and that the popular will is followed. Instead, Texas, like much of the nation, has been buried by an election-year avalanche of legal wrangling, double-talk, and subterfuge that threaten to cloud the results and undermine trust in the process. How the hell did we get here?

Harris County election clerk Nora Martinez, left, helps a voter during early voting for the Texas primary runoffs in Houston on June 29, 2020. David J. Phillip/AP

T he Declaration of Independence avers that a government is legitimate only if it enjoys the &ldquoconsent of the governed.&rdquo But for much of U.S. history, it hasn&rsquot worked that way. Instead, the people have had to seek consent from the political party in power to participate. When consent is denied, we call that voter suppression. Such disenfranchisement can take many forms. It can be overt&mdasha poll tax or a literacy test&mdashor it can be more subtle, such as the way local officials in rural Waller County have curbed voting hours and limited the number of polling places to blunt the influence of students at the historically Black Prairie View A&M University.

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We identify voter suppression by its effect, not its exact form: it prevents those at the bottom of this country&rsquos complex social hierarchy&mdashpeople of color, the working class, the young&mdashfrom exercising the most important right conferred on them by U.S. citizenship. Voter suppression and other methods of swaying election results, from outright fraud to gerrymandering, aren&rsquot an occasional feature of Texas politics. They form a continuous thread. The state has never been free of them.

You probably know how the story starts. In the years after the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment and the Union Army briefly enfranchised Black men. For a time, Abraham Lincoln&rsquos Republican party had the upper hand in Texas, electing African Americans to office in the years after the end of the Civil War. In response, Texas Democrats built a legal regime to disenfranchise freedmen. The blunt instruments of disenfranchisement included poll taxes and the &ldquowhite primary&rdquo laws, which barred African Americans and Hispanics from participating in the all-important Democratic nominating contest.

But by 1965, the party system had undergone a dramatic shift. It was a Texas Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, who presided over the defeat of Jim Crow in the voting booth, or so it was hoped, with the signing of the Voting Rights Act. The bill established something approaching universal suffrage in the United States for the first time in its history, and it gave the federal government the teeth to enforce it. But it wasn&rsquot the clean break with the past that its advocates hoped for. The disease had already mutated, and a new kind of voter suppression had taken shape to replace the one Congress had made illegal.

In 1964 the Republican National Committee organized a nationwide expansion of a poll-watching campaign called Operation Eagle Eye, building on &ldquoballot security&rdquo initiatives by the same name run by local Republican parties in the years before. Republicans were convinced, not unreasonably, that the 1960 presidential election had been stolen from Richard Nixon, thanks to Richard Daley&rsquos Chicago political machine and Lyndon Johnson&rsquos under-the-table influence in his home state. This was, after all, the state where a South Texas political boss known as the Duke of Duval helped steal the 1948 Senate election for Johnson.

From this legitimate fear came Eagle Eye&mdashor &ldquoEvil Eye,&rdquo as Democratic vice president Hubert Humphrey called it. Republicans claimed to put 100,000 poll watchers in precincts across the nation in 1964, focused on large cities with high concentrations of minority and working-class voters. The Indianapolis Star reported that a &ldquopert Republican housewife&rdquo was on hand to sternly supervise LBJ&rsquos own vote in Johnson City. The New York Times reported that the director of the operation, Charles Barr, expected to &ldquosuccessfully challenge or to discourage from voting 1,250,000 persons&rdquo and quoted Barr as denying that there was &ldquoanything discriminatory in &lsquoEagle Eye&rsquo against any race, creed or economic status.&rdquo

During his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process, future chief justice William Rehnquist was accused of intimidating voters in Arizona&rsquos Maricopa County as part of Eagle Eye during the 1962 election, where, a federal judge later wrote, &ldquoevery black or Mexican person&rdquo was challenged to read the Constitution in English and then to interpret it. Rehnquist himself reportedly administered the test.

The Republican party organized an estimated 10,000 poll watchers in Texas in 1964, or one in ten of the national number&mdasha remarkable figure, given that the GOP was still virtually irrelevant in Texas. That year, flyers authored by the nonexistent &ldquoHarris County Negro Protective Association&rdquo warned Black voters they could be arrested for voting if they had been even so much as questioned by the police for any offense, including traffic violations. The chairman of the Harris County GOP charged that the party had found more than a thousand &ldquofictitious&rdquo voter registrations. In Travis County, Republicans said they had found a hundred phantom voters, circulating pictures of a cemetery and a vacant lot where they were apparently registered. When the Austin American looked into the allegations, the newspaper found simple clerical errors&mdashin each case, the address was off by a single digit. The pattern set that year would repeat time and again in Texas.

Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of the King Street Patriots, testifies on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., in February 2014. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

W henever the Democratic party&rsquos fortunes are on the upswing, fear of voter fraud tends to get whipped up. That was the case in 1964 and again in 2008. The latter year, Texas Democrats nearly took control of the state House and Barack Obama won Harris County by a thin margin, a watershed event for Democrats trying to claw their way back to relevancy.

One of the most worried observers was Catherine Engelbrecht, a white Houston woman who co-owns an oilfield machinery company and founded the King Street Patriots, a tea party group. After Obama&rsquos win, she told the New York Times later, &ldquosomething clicked,&rdquo and she saw a future for the United States that &ldquothreaten[ed] the future of our children.&rdquo So in the city&rsquos 2009 municipal elections, she and a few dozen like-minded activists volunteered as poll workers, particularly in nonwhite parts of town. Engelbrecht says she witnessed widespread fraud. But many of the activities she claims to have seen were in fact legally required&mdashsuch as poll workers helping voters fill out their ballots upon request.

Nonetheless, Engelbrecht&rsquos account made her an overnight celebrity. With more volunteers and more backing, the King Street Patriots scoured voter rolls in predominantly Black parts of Houston and came up with a list of what they called fraudulent registration forms. That caught the attention of Harris County tax assessor&ndashcollector and voter registrar Leo Vasquez, a Republican. On August 24, 2010, Vasquez held a shocking press conference in a room filled with cheering members of Engelbrecht&rsquos new group, True the Vote. Vasquez announced that the faulty registration forms came from Houston Votes 2010, a nonprofit that was attempting to register 100,000 new voters in Harris County before the November election.

&ldquoThe integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systemic attack&rdquo by Houston Votes, Vasquez said. Some five thousand voter registration forms turned in by the group were fraudulent, he claimed. Noncitizens and minors were attempting to register to vote, he said. Crimes may have been committed.

But the explosive claims added up to very little. Houston Votes, as it turned out, was the only real victim. Some of the group&rsquos paid canvassers had been turning in junk work&mdashregistration forms that were incomplete or duplicates. Ultimately it was Vasquez&rsquos job to screen out ineligible voters. All he had to do was throw away the faulty applications, which were easy to spot. For instance, consider those applications from noncitizens, which featured so prominently in news coverage. There&rsquos a box on the form that asks if the applicant is a citizen. Applicants had checked &ldquono.&rdquo The Duke of Duval they were not.

But with the specter of voter fraud hanging over the 2010 election, armed agents from the office of Greg Abbott, then the state attorney general, raided the headquarters of Houston Votes and seized everything they could&mdashcomputers, financial records, paperwork. They kneecapped the organization. It fell far short of its registration goals and disbanded soon after, unable to raise money. True the Vote, meanwhile, sent an even larger contingent of poll watchers to minority precincts, where they set about pestering citizens.

After it had driven a stake through the heart of Houston Votes, the AG&rsquos office quietly determined that no one had committed any crimes at all. Rather than issue a heartfelt apology, the investigators destroyed all of the group&rsquos seized property&mdashvoter lists, computers, financial records. Abbott&rsquos attorneys also neglected to tell the group&rsquos leaders that they had been cleared.

The Houston Votes saga received little attention at the time. As with this year, there were simply too many election shenanigans going on at once for the episode to get much attention. But it was a particularly egregious case even for Texas: if the episode had happened in Ukraine, the U.S. State Department (at least before 2017) would have loudly condemned it. In the years since, True the Vote has prospered, receiving millions of dollars in funding from right-wing donors to expand its operations.

This year, Engelbrecht aims to mobilize 10,000 poll watchers&mdashwith a special emphasis on recruiting military veterans. Her poll watchers have often been accused of harassment. As she explained behind closed doors at a recent gathering of the religious right in Orange County, California, she wants intimidating-looking volunteers. &ldquoYou get some [Navy] SEALs in those polls, and they&rsquore going to say, &lsquoNo, no, this is what it says. This is how we&rsquore going to play this show,&rsquo &rdquo she said.

Engelbrecht and those like her are behaving in a rational way. In a state that has rarely celebrated or protected the act of voting, it makes sense to prevent your enemies from exercising their franchise. They are also following tradition. At a 1980 gathering of Christian conservatives in Dallas, at which future president Ronald Reagan spoke, prominent activist and organizer Paul Weyrich ridiculed Christians who were infected with what he called &ldquogoo-goo syndrome,&rdquo which is to say they believed in &ldquogood government&rdquo ideals such as getting more Americans to vote.

&ldquoI don&rsquot want everybody to vote,&rdquo he said. &ldquoOur leverage in the election goes up as the voting populace goes down.&rdquo Weyrich wasn&rsquot some crank: he was a cofounder of the Moral Majority, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, among other groups. ALEC later became instrumental in helping state legislatures put up new impediments to voting, including Texas&rsquos 2011 voter ID law, one of the strictest in the nation. The Heritage Foundation maintains a database of what it calls &ldquoproven instances of election fraud.&rdquo It totals 1,298 cases over two decades&mdashmany of which concern improper handling of a single ballot or non-voting-related offenses like petition-gathering&mdasha laughably small number in a country where 130 million ballots are cast in each presidential election.

Many conservative activists feel as Weyrich did. In 2013 Texas tea party leader Ken Emanuelson was asked at a Dallas County GOP event how the Republican party was reaching out to Black voters. &ldquoI&rsquom going to be real honest with you,&rdquo Emanuelson said. &ldquoThe Republican party doesn&rsquot want Black people to vote if they are going to vote nine to one for Democrats.&rdquo (In 2017 President-elect Donald Trump told a group of civil rights leaders that &ldquomany Blacks didn&rsquot go out and vote for Hillary, &rsquocause they liked me. That was almost as good as getting the vote.&rdquo)

On August 10, 2006, a 69-year-old Black woman named Gloria Meeks was toweling off after taking a bath at her home in Fort Worth when she said two men &ldquopeeped into my bathroom window not once but twice.&rdquo In time, she would learn that the men staking out her house were investigators from Texas attorney general Abbott&rsquos office, part of a team looking into what Abbott billed as an &ldquoepidemic&rdquo of voter fraud. Meeks&rsquos crime? She had helped a homebound 79-year-old neighbor fill out her mail-in ballot and then walked it to the post box two blocks away. By mailing the ballot for her neighbor without signing on the back of the envelope, Meeks had violated the law. In the course of the investigation, which never led to any charges, Meeks had a stroke, which her friends blamed partly on stress.

That year, as Republican poll numbers were slipping, Abbott&rsquos team, funded by a $1.5 million federal grant disbursed by then-governor Rick Perry, went after dozens of alleged mail-ballot fraudsters, primarily Democrats and people of color. And they were often senior citizens born in the age of the &ldquowhite primary&rdquo and the poll tax.

Was that by design? A PowerPoint presentation that Abbott&rsquos office used to brief officeholders on &ldquoelectoral fraud&rdquo included a picture of Black voters in line under the heading &ldquoPoll Place Violations.&rdquo Fraud detectives, the PowerPoint said, should look out for &ldquounique stamps&rdquo accompanying mail-in ballots. The example given is a 2004 stamp with the words &ldquoTest Early for Sickle Cell,&rdquo over a picture of a Black woman kissing an infant. (Sickle cell anemia is disproportionately common among people of African ancestry.)

It&rsquos enough to make one wonder if the fear of voter fraud is sincere.

T he past few years have seen, once again, the fortunes of the Democratic party rising relative to those of the Republican party in Texas. Part of the reason is increased voter turnout. So, naturally, fears of &ldquovoter fraud&rdquo and attempts to depress turnout are on the upswing. In 2019 Texas secretary of state David Whitley instructed local officials to investigate some 100,000 Texans who his office suggested had voted illegally. (The purge fell apart when it turned out the list was junk and included many naturalized citizens who had every right to vote.) The state has fought to keep voter registration harder than it needs to be, sometimes in contravention of federal law. In August a federal judge rebuked Texas&mdashyet again&mdashfor violating federal &ldquomotor voter&rdquo laws, which requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to offer voter registration when driver&rsquos licenses are renewed.

A nd in 2019, the Legislature effectively prohibited the use of temporary voting sites during early voting, which were of particular use on college campuses. Lawmakers have also kept up an aggressive campaign to punish minor violations of election law with severe sentences. The most infamous of these cases involves Crystal Mason, a Black mother of three from Fort Worth, who was on supervised release for a felony tax fraud charge when she cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election. Unbeknownst to her, that was illegal&mdashshe had to wait until the end of supervised release to vote. Her ballot was rejected and never counted. Yet she was nonetheless convicted of voting illegally and sentenced to five years in jai l.

Here&rsquos the bad news: a 150-year-old habit is going to be tough for Texans to kick. But there&rsquos good news too. Unlike lupus, voter suppression is curable.

Even the one concession Governor Abbott made to facilitate voting during COVID-19&mdashextending early voting by a week&mdashwas too much for the Republican party. Together with a long list of Republican officeholders, the party sued to prevent polls from opening up early, arguing that the governor was required to consult the Legislature before giving voters more time to cast their ballots. Perhaps in response, on October 1, Abbott ordered Texas counties to limit themselves to one drop-off location for mail-in ballots, making it harder, especially in urban counties, for voters who are wary of Trump&rsquos tampering with the U.S. Post Office to turn in their ballots in person. While the Republican party can at least claim that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to voter fraud, there&rsquos no justification for preventing in-person early voting other than to drive down turnout.

With one hand, the state GOP is fighting in the courts to prevent local election officials from sending mail-in ballot applications to the public. With the other, it is sending mail-in ballot applications to its own voters, accompanied by campaign literature featuring a big picture of President Trump. Around the time the applications started to go out, Trump encouraged his own supporters to try voting twice&mdashonce by mail, and once in person&mdashto see if their mail-in ballot had been &ldquocounted.&rdquo (Don&rsquot try this, folks it&rsquos illegal.) In other words, there&rsquos precisely one major elected official in America who has endorsed voter fraud this year, and it&rsquos the president.


July 27, 1918: Women Vote For the First Time in Texas History

Travis County women register to vote. Image from the W.D. Hornaday Collection, Prints and Photographs Collection, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The moment: July 27, 1918
The place: Polling locations across Texas

A watershed moment in the fight for votes for Texas women happened on March 26, 1918, when Governor William Hobby signed a bill giving women the right to vote in the Texas primary election.

The bill was passed during a special legislative session called after the impeachment of anti-suffrage Governor James “Pa” Ferguson, which suffragist leaders helped bring about. During the session, suffragist groups and their allies staged a petition drive that secured the signatures of a majority of legislative members, which led to the bill’s passage in both the Texas House and Senate.

It was a thrilling victory for Texas women who had worked so hard to achieve equal voting rights—but there was little time to celebrate. The bill was passed within less than a month of the registration deadline for the primary election, which meant that suffrage leaders had to act fast. Through hastily-organized “citizenship schools” and information booths set up at department stores, courthouses and other public locales, suffrage groups and other organizations conducted a public education campaign and staged mock elections to educate women on the basics of election participation. Astonishingly, they managed to register an estimated 386,000 women in only 17 days.

On the left: Suffrage leaders had to work quickly to spread the word about Texas women’s opportunity to vote for the first time in history. Images from the From the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive & Research Collection at The University of Houston and the Austin Public Library.

It’s important to note that Texas law at this time permitted the practice of “white primaries”, a voter suppression tactic used throughout the South to keep African-Americans, Mexican Americans and other minorities away from the ballot box.

This meant that although many African-American women registered to vote in the historic primary, they were denied their rights on election day—even though many African-American women in Texas supported suffrage. In 1944, thanks to a lawsuit filed by the Houston branch of the NAACP (on behalf of a Houston dentist, Lonnie Smith) and the efforts of individual activists like Texas suffragist Christia Adair, the Supreme Court struck down white primaries and the practice came to an end, thus eliminating one of many barriers to full suffrage that persisted in Texas for decades.


1980 s &hyphen2010 s

Texas Senate Redistricting
82nd Legislative Session
The 82nd Legislature&comma Regular Session&comma passed a senate redistricting plan &lparPLANS148&rpar in May 2011&comma which was signed by the governor&period

Texas v&period United States &hyphen Preclearance Lawsuit
In July 2011&comma the Texas attorney general petitioned the U&periodS&period District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act &lparTexas v&period United States&rpar seeking to preclear the legislatively enacted state senate plan &lparPLANS148&rpar&period The D&periodC&period district court heard the case in January 2012 and issued an opinion denying Texas preclearance in August 2012 on the grounds that the state failed to demonstrate that the plan was not enacted with discriminatory purpose&period The state appealed the ruling to the U&periodS&period Supreme Court&period In June 2013&comma the U&periodS&period Supreme Court in a different case ruled that the coverage formula used to determine which states and local governments fall under the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional &lparShelby County v&period Holder&rpar&period The Supreme Court then vacated the D&periodC&period district court&aposs judgment denying preclearance of the legislatively enacted senate plan and sent the case back for further consideration in light of the Shelby County ruling&period The D&periodC&period district court found that Texas&apos suit for preclearance was mooted by Shelby County and filed a memorandum and order to dismiss the suit in December 2013&period

Davis v&period Perry &hyphen Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and 14th Amendment of the U&periodS&period Constitution Lawsuit
In September 2011&comma plaintiffs filed Davis v&period Perry in the U&periodS&period District Court for the Western District of Texas&comma San Antonio Division&comma alleging that the plan enacted by the legislature &lparPLANS148&rpar diluted minority voting strength in the Dallas and Tarrant County area and violated the one-person&comma one-vote rule&period A three&hyphenjudge panel was appointed to hear the case as provided by federal law&period Because the legislature's senate plan had not been precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act&comma the San Antonio court ordered an interim state senate plan &lparPLANS164&rpar in November 2011&period The state requested a stay on the use of the court&aposs interim plan&comma which the U&periodS&period Supreme Court granted in December 2011&period After hearing Davis v&period Perry in January 2012&comma the U&periodS&period Supreme Court vacated the district court&aposs order implementing an interim plan on the grounds that the court&aposs interim plan unnecessarily deviated from the legislatively enacted plan and remanded the case for further proceedings&period In February 2012&comma the district court in San Antonio ordered a new interim state senate plan &lparPLANS172&rpar that more closely followed the legislature&aposs plan for the 2012 elections&period

83rd Legislative Session
In June 2013&comma the 83rd Legislature&comma 1st Called Session&comma passed S&periodB&period 2 enacting the court&hyphenordered interim senate plan &lparPLANS172&rpar as the permanent senate plan&period Plaintiffs and the state advised the San Antonio court that all parties in the federal case agreed to the newly enacted legislative plan as the final remedial senate plan&comma and the court entered a final judgment on the state senate map in September 2013&period

Evenwel v&period Perry &hyphen One&hyphenPerson&comma One&hyphenVote Challenge
In April 2014&comma the Project on Fair Representation filed Evenwel v&period Perry&comma challenging Texas Senate redistricting plan enacted by the legislature in 2013 &lparPLANS172&rpar&period The lawsuit sought to enjoin Texas from conducting further state senate elections under the plan and asked the court to require the legislature to reapportion the senate districts to conform to the plaintiffs&apos preferred construction of the one&hyphenperson&comma one&hyphenvote requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment&period The suit argued that Texas&apos state senate districts must be drawn with approximately equal numbers of eligible voters rather than approximately equal total population&period In November 2014&comma a three&hyphenjudge panel of the U&periodS&period District Court for the Western District of Texas&comma Austin Division&comma dismissed the plaintiffs&apos challenge for failing to state a valid claim constituting a recognized violation of the Fourteenth Amendment&period The plaintiffs appealed the district court&aposs dismissal to the U&periodS&period Supreme Court&period On April 4&comma 2016&comma the Supreme Court upheld the district court&aposs dismissal&comma ruling that states and localities may comply with the one&hyphenperson&comma one&hyphenvote principle by adopting districts with equal total populations&period The court left unresolved the question whether a state may draw districts to equalize voter&hypheneligible population rather than total population to satisfy the one&hyphenperson&comma one&hyphenvote principle.

Texas House Redistricting
82nd Legislative Session
The 82nd Legislature&comma Regular Session&comma passed a house redistricting plan &lparPLANH283&rpar in May 2011&comma which was signed by the governor&period

Texas v&period United States &hyphen Preclearance Lawsuit
The Texas attorney general petitioned the U&periodS&period District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act &lparTexas v&period United States&rpar validating the legislatively enacted state house plan &lparPLANH283&rpar in July 2011&period The D&periodC&period district court heard the case in January 2012 and&comma in August&comma issued an opinion denying Texas preclearance&period The state appealed the ruling to the U&periodS&period Supreme Court&period In summer 2013&comma the U&periodS&period Supreme Court ruled that the coverage formula used to determine which states and local governments fall under the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional &lparShelby County v&period Holder&rpar&period The court then vacated the D&periodC&period district court&aposs judgment denying preclearance of the legislatively enacted house plan and sent the case back for further consideration in light of the Shelby County ruling&period The D&periodC&period district court found that Texas&apos claims were mooted by Shelby County and filed a memorandum and order to dismiss Texas&apos claims in December 2013&period

Perez v&period Perry &hyphen Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and 14th Amendment of the U&periodS&period Constitution Lawsuit
In September 2011&comma the U&periodS&period District Court for the Western District of Texas&comma San Antonio Division&comma started hearings on the consolidated federal lawsuits in Perez v&period Perry and ordered an interim state house plan &lparPLANH302&rpar in November&period The U&periodS&period Supreme Court granted the state&aposs request for a stay on the use of the interim state house plan and&comma after hearing the case in January 2012&comma vacated the San Antonio court&aposs order implementing the interim plan and remanded the case for further proceedings&period In February&comma the San Antonio court ordered a new interim state house plan &lparPLANH309&rpar for the 2012 elections&period
In September 2013&comma the San Antonio court denied a request by the state to dismiss claims about the 2011 house map on grounds of mootness&period The court also concluded that a full&comma fair&comma and final review of all issues before the court could not be resolved in time for the 2014 elections and ordered the 2013&hyphenenacted Texas house map &lparPLANH358&rpar to be used as the interim plan for the 2014 elections&period The court did not make any changes to the election schedule for 2014&period
In July 2014&comma the San Antonio court heard evidence in Perez v&period Perry regarding the 2011 legislatively enacted house plan &lparPLANH283&rpar&period A hearing on the 2013&hyphenenacted state house plan &lparPLANH358&rpar will be scheduled at a later date&period

83rd Legislative Session
In June 2013&comma the 83rd Legislature&comma 1st Called Session&comma passed S&periodB&period 3&comma a new house plan &lparPLANH358&rpar that made changes to 14 districts in Dallas&comma Harris&comma Tarrant&comma and Webb Counties&period Other districts in the state were identical to the districts in the interim state house plan &lparPLANH309&rpar ordered by the San Antonio court&period

Congressional Redistricting
Based on the 2010 federal decennial census&comma Texas was apportioned 36 congressional districts&period

82nd Legislative Session
The Regular Session of the 82nd Legislature adjourned without adopting a congressional redistricting bill&comma and the 82nd Legislature&comma 1st Called Session&comma passed a congressional redistricting bill in June 2011 &lparPLANC185&rpar&period

Texas v&period United States &hyphen Preclearance Lawsuit
The Texas attorney general petitioned the U&periodS&period District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act &lparTexas v&period United States&rpar validating the legislatively enacted U&periodS&period congressional plan &lparPLANC185&rpar in July 2011&period The D&periodC&period district court heard the case in January 2012 and&comma in August&comma issued an opinion denying Texas preclearance&period The state appealed the ruling to the U&periodS&period Supreme Court&period In summer 2013&comma the U&periodS&period Supreme Court ruled that the coverage formula used to determine which states and local governments fall under the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional &lparShelby County v&period Holder&rpar&period The court then vacated the D&periodC&period district court&aposs judgment denying preclearance of the legislatively enacted congressional plan and sent the case back for further consideration in light of the Shelby County ruling&period The D&periodC&period district court found that Texas&apos claims were mooted by Shelby County and filed a memorandum and order to dismiss Texas&apos claims in December 2013&period

Perez v&period Perry &hyphen Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and 14th Amendment of the U&periodS&period Constitution Lawsuit
In September 2011&comma the U&periodS&period District Court for the Western District of Texas&comma San Antonio Division&comma started hearings on the consolidated federal lawsuits in Perez v&period Perry and ordered an interim congressional plan &lparPLANC220&rpar in November&period The U&periodS&period Supreme Court granted the state&aposs request for a stay on the use of the interim congressional plan and&comma after hearing the case in January 2012&comma vacated the San Antonio court&aposs order implementing the interim congressional plan and remanded the case for further proceedings&period In February&comma the San Antonio court ordered a new interim congressional plan &lparPLANC235&rpar for the 2012 elections&period

In September 2013&comma the San Antonio court denied a request by the state to dismiss claims about the 2011 congressional map on grounds of mootness&period The court also concluded that a full&comma fair&comma and final review of all issues before the court could not be resolved in time for the 2014 elections and ordered the 2013&hyphenenacted U&periodS&period congressional map &lparPLANC235&rpar to be used as the interim plan for the 2014 elections&period The court did not make any changes to the election schedule for 2014&period

In August 2014&comma the San Antonio court heard evidence in Perez v&period Perry regarding the 2011 legislatively enacted congressional plan &lparPLANC185&rpar&period A hearing on the 2013&hyphenenacted congressional plan &lparPLANC235&rpar will be scheduled at a later date&period

83rd Legislative Session
The 83rd Legislature&comma 1st Called Session&comma passed a congressional redistricting bill&comma S&periodB&period 4&comma adopting the court&hyphenordered interim congressional plan &lparPLANC235&rpar as the permanent congressional plan in June 2013&period

State Board of Education Redistricting
The 82nd Legislature&comma Regular Session&comma passed the State Board of Education redistricting bill&comma H&periodB&period 600 &lparPLANE120&rpar&comma on May 5&comma 2011&period On September 22&comma 2011&comma the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted its approval for the plan under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act&period

Texas Senate and Texas House Redistricting
The regular session of the 77th Legislature adjourned on May 28&comma 2001&comma without adopting a senate&comma house&comma congressional&comma or State Board of Education redistricting plan&period The Legislative Redistricting Board &lparLRB&rpar convened on June 6 and adopted plans for the state senate &lparPLAN01188S&rpar and the state house &lparPLAN01289H&rpar on July 24&period The plans were submitted to the U&periodS&period Department of Justice &lparDOJ&rpar for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965&period

A Travis County state district court considered suits against the LRB&aposs house and senate redistricting plans before deferring to the U&periodS&period District Court for the Eastern District of Texas&period The DOJ precleared the LRB senate plan on October 15&comma and on November 28 the federal district court upheld the LRB senate plan&period

The U&periodS&period District Court for the Eastern District of Texas also held hearings on various legal challenges to the LRB house redistricting plan on November 13&hyphen15&period The DOJ denied preclearance of the LRB house plan on November 16&comma and on November 28 the federal district court put in place a new house district plan &lparPLAN01369H&comma which modified the LRB house plan&rpar to address the DOJ&aposs objections&period

Congressional Redistricting
In December 2000&comma three legal challenges were filed in Travis County district court regarding congressional redistricting in Texas&period The regular session of the 77th Legislature adjourned on May 28&comma 2001&comma without adopting a congressional plan&comma and the governor did not call a special session to consider congressional redistricting&period On September 17&comma 2001&comma the Travis County district court began hearing the Del Rio v&period Perry and Cotera v&period Perry congressional cases&comma and on October 10&comma the court issued an order adopting new congressional districts &lparPLAN01089C&rpar&period This plan was vacated by the Texas Supreme Court on October 19 &lparDel Rio v&period Perry&rpar because the state district court&aposs time had expired&comma and the U&periodS&period District Court for the Eastern District of Texas began proceedings on the congressional case of Balderas v&period State of Texas on October 22&period On November 14&comma the federal district court issued an order adopting congressional districts &lparPLAN01151C&rpar for the 2002 elections&period

The 78th Legislature considered congressional redistricting in its regular session and three subsequent called sessions&period On October 12&comma 2003&comma in the third called session&comma the 78th Legislature adopted PLAN01374C&period The plan was submitted to the DOJ on October 20&comma 2003&comma and was precleared on December 19&comma 2003&period

Following the passage of the legislature&aposs congressional plan&comma four federal court actions&comma consolidated as Session v&period Perry&comma were filed in mid&hyphenOctober 2003 seeking relief against the plan&period The U&periodS&period District Court for the Eastern District of Texas heard the case in late December and&comma on January 6&comma 2004&comma upheld the validity of the congressional plan enacted by the Texas Legislature&period The plaintiffs appealed the federal district court's decision to the U&periodS&period Supreme Court&period

On October 18&comma 2004&comma the U&periodS&period Supreme Court remanded Session v&period Perry, involving the Texas congressional plan, to the U&periodS&period District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for further consideration in light of the June 2004 U&periodS&period Supreme Court ruling in Vieth v&period Jubelirer&comma a partisan gerrymandering case from Pennsylvania&period The district court heard oral arguments on January 21&comma 2005&comma and on January 25 issued a decision in the remand of Session v&period Perry adhering to the court&aposs earlier judgment that there was no basis to declare the plan invalid&period On December 12&comma 2005&comma the U&periodS&period Supreme Court set the 2003 challenge to Texas&apos redrawing of congressional districts &lparnow styled as LULAC v&period Perry&rpar for oral argument before the court&period Argument was heard on March 6&comma 2006&comma and on June 28&comma the court issued a decision finding that the district court&aposs judgment was partly correct and partly in error&comma and returned the case to the district court for further action&period The U&periodS&period Supreme Court found that Congressional District 23 violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and that the creation of a new District 25 did not remedy the problem&period

On August 4&comma 2006&comma the U&periodS&period District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued an opinion in the remanded LULAC v&period Perry case ordering changes to five congressional districts &lparPLAN01438C&rpar to address the Voting Rights Act violation&period Special elections for these five districts were held concurrent with the November 2006 general election&period The five court&hyphenordered districts from PLAN01438C were incorporated into the legislature&aposs 2003 plan &lparPLAN01374C&rpar to create a statewide plan&comma PLAN01440C&period

State Board of Education Redistricting
The regular session of the 77th Legislature adjourned on May 28&comma 2001&comma without adopting a State Board of Education &lparSBOE&rpar redistricting plan&period Legal challenges were filed against the old SBOE districts&comma and on November 2&comma 2001&comma the U&periodS&period District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued an order adopting new SBOE districts based on the 2000 federal census &lparPLAN01018E&rpar for the 2002 elections&period

Texas Senate and Texas House Redistricting
The regular session of the 72nd Legislature passed bills redrawing senate and house district boundaries in the 1991 regular session&comma which were signed by the governor&period

During 1991&comma suits were filed in state district court and federal district court asserting various voting rights violations against the adopted senate and house redistricting plans&period After a series of state and federal court actions and the adoption of new house and senate plans in a January 1992 special session&comma the 1992 house and senate elections were ultimately conducted under federal court&hyphenordered plans that changed 30 of the 31 senate districts and 37 of the 150 house districts that had been adopted by the legislature during the 1991 regular session&period

The 1994 elections were held under districts enacted by the legislature in the January 1992 special session&period The senate districts were significantly different from the court&hyphenordered districts used for the 1992 election&period The legislature&aposs house districts differed only slightly from the 1992 court-ordered districts&period

On January 25&comma 1995&comma Thomas v&period Bush was filed in federal court challenging 13 senate districts and 54 house districts as unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered&period On September 15&comma 1995&comma the court ordered an agreed settlement under which 8 senate districts and 36 house districts were changed to address the alleged gerrymanders&comma the staggered senate terms drawn by lot in January 1993 were allowed to remain in effect&comma and the one&hyphenyear prior residency requirement was waived for the changed districts so that a candidate could run either in the same numbered district in which the candidate resided under the prior plan or in the new district in which the candidate resided&period During the 1997 regular session&comma the Texas Legislature enacted without change the senate districts approved in the 1995 Thomas v&period Bush settlement&period That plan was subsequently used for the 1998 elections&period The legislature also enacted two bills affecting state house districts&comma one which approved the state house districts in the 1995 Thomas v&period Bush settlement with additional minor changes to six districts&comma and the other which made minor changes to eight other house districts&period The U&periodS&period Department of Justice precleared the changes to the house districts&comma and the house plan incorporating those changes was used for the 1998 elections&period Court actions in the summer of 1997 effectively brought an end to required action by the legislature on 1991 redistricting&period

Congressional Redistricting
Under the 1990 federal census&comma Texas was apportioned 3 new congressional districts&comma for a total of 30&period The 72nd Legislature adjourned in May 1991 without adopting a congressional plan during the regular session&comma but did enact a new plan in the 2nd Called Session in August&period

During early 1991&comma suits were filed in state district court and federal district court asserting various voting rights violations against the former unmodified congressional districts&period After the August special session and a number of legal actions&comma the 1992 congressional district elections were held under the plan enacted by the legislature in the August special session&period

On January 26&comma 1994&comma a suit was filed in federal district court in Houston challenging the Texas congressional districts as unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered under the framework of the recent U&periodS&period Supreme Court cases Shaw v&period Reno and Hays v&period Louisiana&period In the summer of 1994&comma the court held three of the districts unconstitutional&period The state appealed the case to the U&periodS&period Supreme Court and proceeded to conduct the 1996 primaries under the state&aposs plan&period In June 1996&comma the Supreme Court upheld the district court&aposs decision&period The district court voided the results of the 1996 primary elections in 13 of the state&aposs 30 congressional districts and ordered a special election to be held in those 13 districts concurrent with the November 1996 general election using an interim plan drawn by the court&period The district court gave the legislature until June 30&comma 1997&comma to enact a permanent plan&comma but the 75th Legislature did not adopt a plan within that time&period On September 15&comma 1997&comma the court dismissed all pending motions and ordered the court&hyphendrawn plan into effect for the 1998 congressional elections&period

State Board of Education Redistricting
The 72nd Legislature adjourned in May 1991 without adopting a State Board of Education &lparSBOE&rpar redistricting plan in the regular session&comma but enacted a new plan in the 2nd Called Session in August 1991&period

During 1991&comma suits were filed in state district court and federal district court asserting various voting rights violations against the former unmodified SBOE districts&period After the August special session and a number of legal actions&comma the 1992 SBOE elections were held under the plan enacted by the legislature in the August special session&period

Texas Senate Redistricting
The 67th Legislature in regular session passed a senate redistricting plan&comma but the plan was vetoed by the governor&period The Legislative Redistricting Board &lparLRB&rpar convened on August 30&comma 1981&comma to consider senate redistricting and adopted a new senate plan on October 28&period The plan was submitted to the U&periodS&period Department of Justice &lparDOJ&rpar for preclearance&period

In October&comma Upham v&period White was filed in state district court, maintaining that the LRB&aposs senate plan should have been drawn on the basis of "qualified electors" as then required by the Texas Constitution and that population growth patterns should have been taken into consideration&period The court rejected the arguments&comma upheld the senate plan&comma and did not rule specifically on the qualified electors provision of the constitution&period No opinion was published&period

A consolidation of suits against the LRB&aposs senate and house plans&comma Terrazas v&period Clements&comma was filed in federal court in late 1981&period The suit claimed that the senate plan violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U&periodS&period Constitution by diluting the voting strength of blacks&comma Hispanics&comma and Republicans and by ignoring communities of interest throughout the state&period

On January 25&comma 1982&comma the DOJ issued an objection to the LRB&aposs senate redistricting plan&period The federal court extended the candidate filing deadline for the 1982 primary&comma adopted the LRB&aposs senate plan without change for use in the 1982 elections only&comma and directed the legislature to adopt permanent plans by September 1&comma 1983&period

On May 16&comma 1983&comma the senate adopted a resolution petitioning the court to adopt a specified plan changing eight districts&period The purpose of the proposal was to avoid a new senate reapportionment for the 1984 elections that would have terminated the staggered terms of the senators elected in 1982 and required the election of an entire senate in 1984&period No objections were made to the plan by the DOJ or other groups&period In December 1983&comma the federal district court in Terrazas ordered the proposed senate district plan into effect for the 1984 elections&period

Texas House Redistricting
The regular session of the 67th Legislature passed a house redistricting plan&comma which was signed by the governor&period On August 31&comma 1981&comma the Texas Supreme Court overturned the house redistricting plan because it split counties in violation of the Texas Constitution&comma and the LRB adopted a new house plan on October 28&period The LRB house plan was submitted to the DOJ for preclearance&period

The consolidated suits against the LRB&aposs senate and house plans&comma Terrazas v&period Clements&comma claimed that the house plan violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments&comma diluted the voting strength of racial minorities&comma interfered with the First Amendment rights of Texas Republicans to associate politically&comma impermissibly divided communities of interest&comma and overpopulated certain districts that were predicted to grow substantially&comma leading to underrepresentation of people in those areas&period

On January 25&comma 1982&comma the DOJ issued an objection to the LRB&aposs house redistricting plan&period The federal court extended the candidate filing deadline for the 1982 primary&comma adopted the LRB&aposs house plan&comma with changes in some Bexar and El Paso County districts&comma for use in the 1982 elections only&comma and directed the legislature to adopt a permanent house plan by September 1&comma 1983&period

On May 10&comma 1983&comma the 68th Legislature in regular session enacted a bill adopting without change the federal court&aposs house plan for the 1982 elections&comma and the court approved the plan on January 4&comma 1984&period

Congressional Redistricting
The regular session of the 67th Legislature adjourned on June 1&comma 1981&comma without adopting a congressional plan&period The legislature convened in special session and passed a congressional plan on August 10&comma which was submitted to the DOJ for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965&period The DOJ issued an objection to the plan&period

The congressional plan was challenged in federal district court in Seamon v&period Upham&period The DOJ had objected to two South Texas districts in the legislature&aposs plan&semi the court determined that these objections invalidated the entire plan&period The federal district court redrew districts in South Texas and in and around Dallas County&comma where its decision to draw two districts in which blacks would have had substantial influence but not a voting majority was appealed&period The U&periodS&period Supreme Court found that the district court had erred and remanded the case to district court&period Because the decision was issued in April and the primaries were to be held in May&comma the federal district court&aposs congressional plan was allowed to stand for the 1982 elections&period

The 68th Legislature left in place the federal court&aposs congressional plan with the two black impact districts in Dallas County&comma but made changes to other districts in the Dallas area and in Bexar and Val Verde Counties&period

State Board of Education Redistricting
In 1984&comma the 68th Legislature&comma 2nd Called Session&comma created a new 15&hyphenmember board&comma serving staggered four&hyphenyear terms&comma with one member elected from each of the 15 newly enacted districts&period A transitional board was appointed by the governor to serve until 1989&period In the 1988 general election&comma all 15 members were elected&period


The 19th-century culture of the state was heavily influenced by the plantation culture of the Old South, dependent on African-American slave labor, as well as the patron system once prevalent (and still somewhat present) in northern Mexico and South Texas. In these societies the government's primary role was seen as being the preservation of social order. Solving of individual problems in society was seen as a local problem with the expectation that the individual with wealth should resolve his or her own issues. [1] These influences continue to affect Texas today. In their book, Texas Politics Today 2009-2010, authors Maxwell, Crain, and Santos attribute Texas' traditionally low voter turnout among whites to these influences. [1] But beginning in the early 20th century, voter turnout was dramatically reduced by the state legislature's disenfranchisement of most blacks, and many poor whites and Latinos. [2]

Democratic dominance: 1848 to 1960 Edit

From 1848 until Dwight D. Eisenhower's victory in 1952, Texas voted for the Democratic candidate for president in every election except 1928, when it did not support Catholic Al Smith. The Democrats were pro-slavery pre-Civil War, as Abraham Lincoln was a Republican in the North. Most Republicans were Abolitionists. In the mid-20th century 1952 and 1956 elections, the state voters joined the landslide for Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Texas did not vote in 1864 and 1868 due to the Civil War and Reconstruction). [3]

In the post-Civil War era, two of the most important Republican figures in Texas were African Americans George T. Ruby and Norris Wright Cuney. Ruby was a black community organizer, director in the federal Freedmen's Bureau, and leader of the Galveston Union League. His protégé Cuney was a person of mixed-race descent whose wealthy, white planter father freed him and his siblings before the Civil War and arranged for his education in Pennsylvania. Cuney returned and settled in Galveston, where he became active in the Union League and the Republican party he rose to the leadership of the party. He became influential in Galveston and Texas politics, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential black leaders in the South during the 19th century.

From 1902 through 1965, Texas had virtually disenfranchised most Black, many Latino, and poor white people through imposition of the poll tax and white primaries. Across the South, Democrats controlled congressional apportionment based on total population, although they had disenfranchised the black population. The Solid South exercised tremendous power in Congress, and Democrats gained important committee chairmanships by seniority. They gained federal funding for infrastructure projects in their states and the region, as well as support for numerous military bases, as two examples of how they brought federal investment to the state and region.

In the post-Reconstruction era, by the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Republican Party became non-competitive in the South, due to Democrat-dominated legislatures' disenfranchisement of blacks and many poor whites and Latinos. In Texas, the Democrat-dominated legislature excluded them through passage of a poll tax and white primary. Voter turnout in Texas declined dramatically following these disenfranchisement measures, and Southern voting turnout was far below the national average. [2]

Although black people made up 20 percent of the state population at the turn of the century, they were essentially excluded from formal politics. [4] Republican support in Texas had been based almost exclusively in the free black communities, particularly in Galveston, and in the German counties of the rural Texas Hill Country inhabited by German immigrants and their descendants, who had opposed slavery in the antebellum period. The German counties continued to run Republican candidates. Harry M. Wurzbach was elected from the 14th district from 1920 to 1926, contesting and finally winning the election of 1928, and being re-elected in 1930.

Some of the most important American political figures of the 20th century, such as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Vice-President John Nance Garner, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, and Senator Ralph Yarborough were Texas Democrats. But, the Texas Democrats were rarely united, being divided into conservative, moderate and liberal factions that vied with one another for power.

Increasing Republican strength: 1960 to 1990 Edit

Beginning in the late 1960s, Republican strength increased in Texas, particularly among residents of the expanding "country club suburbs" around Dallas and Houston.The election, to Congress, of Republicans such as John Tower (who had shifted from the Democratic Party) and George H. W. Bush in 1961 and 1966, respectively, reflected this trend. Nationally, outside of the South, Democrats supported the civil rights movement and achieved important passage of federal legislation in the mid-1960s. In the South, however, Democratic leaders had opposed changes to bring about black voting or desegregated schools and public facilities and in many places exercised resistance. Following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, southern white voters began to align with the Republican Party, a movement accelerated after the next year, when Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, providing for federal enforcement of minorities' constitutional right to vote. Voter registration and turnout increased among blacks and Latinos in Texas and other states.

Unlike the rest of the South, however, Texas voters were never especially supportive of the various third-party candidacies of Southern Democrats. It was the only state in the former Confederacy to back Democrat Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 presidential election. During the 1980s, a number of conservative Democrats defected to the GOP, including Senator Phil Gramm, Congressman Kent Hance, and GOP Governor Rick Perry, who was a Democrat during his time as a state lawmaker.

John Tower's 1961 election to the U.S. Senate made him the first statewide GOP officeholder since Reconstruction and the disenfranchisement of black Republicans. Republican Governor Bill Clements and Senator Phil Gramm (also a former Democrat) were elected after him. Republicans became increasingly dominant in national elections in white-majority Texas. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Previously, a Democrat had to win Texas to win the White House, but in the 1992 election, Bill Clinton won the Oval Office while losing Texas electoral votes. This result significantly reduced the power of Texas Democrats at the national level, as party leaders believed the state had become unwinnable.

Republican Dominance: 1990 to Present Edit

Presidential election results
Year Republicans Democrats
2020 52.06% 5,890,347 46.48% 5,259,126
2016 52.23% 4,685,047 43.24% 3,877,868
2012 57.19% 4,555,799 41.35% 3,294,440
2008 55.48% 4,467,748 43.72% 3,521,164
2004 61.09% 4,526,917 38.30% 2,832,704
2000 59.30% 3,799,639 38.11% 2,433,746
1996 48.80% 2,736,166 43.81% 2,459,683
1992 40.61% 2,496,071 37.11% 2,281,815
1988 56.01% 3,036,829 43.41% 2,352,748
1984 63.58% 3,433,428 36.18% 1,949,276
1980 55.30% 2,510,705 41.51% 1,881,148
1976 47.97% 1,953,300 51.14% 2,082,319
1972 66.20% 2,298,896 33.24% 1,154,291
1968 39.87% 1,227,844 41.14% 1,266,804
1964 36.49% 958,566 63.32% 1,666,185
1960 48.52% 1,121,130 50.52% 1,167,567

Despite increasing Republican strength in national elections, after the 1990 census, Texas Democrats still controlled both houses of the State Legislature and most statewide offices. As a result, they directed the redistricting process after the decennial census. Although Congressional Texas Democrats received an average of 45 percent of the votes, Democrats consistently had a majority in the state delegation, as they had in every election since at least the end of Reconstruction.

In 1994, Democratic Governor Ann Richards lost her bid for re-election against Republican George W. Bush, ending an era in which Democrats controlled the governorship for all but eight of the past 120 years. Republicans have won the governorship ever since. In 1998, Bush won re-election in a landslide victory, with Republicans sweeping to victory in all the statewide races.

After the 2000 census, the Republican-controlled state Senate sought to draw a congressional district map that would guarantee a Republican majority in the state's delegation. The Democrat-controlled state House desired to retain a plan similar to the existing lines. There was an impasse. With the Legislature unable to reach a compromise, the matter was settled by a panel of federal court judges, who ruled in favor of a district map that largely retained the status quo.

But, Republicans dominated the Legislative Redistricting Board, which defines the state legislative districts, by a majority of four to one. The Republicans on this board used their voting strength to adopt a map for the state Senate that was more favorable to the Republicans as well as a map for the state House that also strongly favored them, as Democrats had also done before them.

In 2002, Texas Republicans gained control of the Texas House of Representatives for the first time since Reconstruction. The newly elected Republican legislature engaged in an unprecedented mid-decade redistricting plan. Democrats said that the redistricting was a blatant partisan gerrymander, while Republicans argued that it was a much-needed correction of the partisan lines drawn after the 1990 census. But, the Republicans ignored the effects of nearly one million new citizens in the state, basing redistricting on 2000 census data. The result was a gain of six seats by the Republicans in the 2004 elections, giving them a majority of the state's delegation for the first time since Reconstruction.

In December 2005, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal that challenged the legality of this redistricting plan. While largely upholding the map, it ruled the El Paso-to-San Antonio 23rd District, which had been a protected majority-Latino district until the 2003 redistricting, was unconstitutionally drawn. The ruling forced nearly every district in the El Paso-San Antonio corridor to be reconfigured. Partly due to this, Democrats picked up two seats in the state in the 2006 elections. The 23rd's Republican incumbent was defeated in this election. It was the first time a Democratic House challenger unseated a Texas Republican incumbent in 10 years. In 2020, Republican Tony Gonzales of San Antonio won by over 4%, a huge win for a swing district in a Presidential Election.

In 2018, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke lost his Senate bid to the incumbent Ted Cruz by about 200,000 votes. O'Rourke's performance in 2018 led analysts to predict greater gains for the Democrats going into the 2020s. In the 2020 elections, Texas voted for the Republican nominee for president Donald Trump and Republican nominee for Senate John Cornyn, the latter of which won re-election by over 1 million votes. [5] Despite continued Republican victories on the federal level, Republican margins in the state continue to see a sustained decline Trump won Texas by 5.5 points in 2020, while Mitt Romney won the state by over 15 points in 2012.

Texas has a reputation for strict "law and order" sentencing. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, of the 21 counties in the United States where more than a fifth of residents are prison inmates, 10 are in Texas. Texas leads the nation in executions, with 464 executions from 1974 to 2011. [6] The second-highest ranking state is Virginia, with 108. A 2002 Houston Chronicle poll of Texans found that when asked "Do you support the death penalty?" 69.1% responded that they did, 21.9% did not support and 9.1% were not sure or gave no answer.

Texas has a long history with secession. It was originally a Spanish province, which in 1821 seceded from Spain and helped form the First Mexican Empire. In 1824 Texas became a state in the new Mexican republic. In 1835 Antonio López de Santa Anna assumed dictatorial control over the state and several states openly rebelled against the changes: Coahuila y Tejas (the northern part of which would become the Republic of Texas), San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Durango, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Yucatán, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. Several of these states formed their own governments: the Republic of the Rio Grande, the Republic of Yucatan, and the Republic of Texas. Only the Texans defeated Santa Anna and retained their independence.

Some Texans believe that because it joined the United States as a country, the Texas state constitution includes the right to secede. [7] However, neither the ordinance of The Texas Annexation of 1845 [8] nor The Annexation of Texas Joint Resolution of Congress March 1, 1845 [9] included provisions giving Texas the right to secede. Texas did originally retain the right to divide into as many as five independent States, [10] and as part of the Compromise of 1850 continues to retain that right while ceding former claims westward and northward along the full length of the Rio Grande in exchange for $10 million from the federal government. [11] See Texas divisionism.

The United States Supreme Court's primary ruling on the legality of secession involved a case brought by Texas involving a Civil War era bonds transfer. [12] In deciding the 1869 Texas v. White case, the Supreme Court first addressed the issue of whether Texas had in fact seceded when it joined the Confederacy. In a 5–3 vote the Court "held that as a matter of constitutional law, no state could leave the Union, explicitly repudiating the position of the Confederate States that the United States was a voluntary compact between sovereign states." [13] In writing the majority opinion Chief Justice Salmon Chase opined that:

When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States. [14]

However, as the issue of secession per se was not the one before the court, it has been debated as to whether this reasoning is merely dicta or a binding ruling on the question. [15] It is also worth noting that Salmon Chase was nominated by Abraham Lincoln and was a staunch anti-secessionist. It is unlikely that he or his Republican appointed court would have approved of the Confederacy and Texas' choice to join it.

The state's organized secessionist movement is growing, with a notable minority of Texans holding secessionist sentiments. [16] A 2009 poll found that 31% of Texans believe that Texas has the legal right to secede and form an independent country and 18% believe it should do so. [17] The Texas Nationalist Movement has been working towards Texas independence for 15 years. In January, 2021 State Representative Kyle Biedermann filed HB 1359, which would bring a vote for Texas independence to the citizens of Texas in November 2021. [18]

Until 2010, Texas had weathered the Great Recession fairly well, buffered by its vast oil and gas industries. It avoided the housing industry meltdown and its unemployment rate continues to be below the national level. It benefited from having a two-year budget cycle, allowing officials create budget plans with more time to focus on issues of importance. However, Texas was impacted by the economic downturn just like many other states, and by 2011 was suffering from tens of billions of dollars in budget deficits. In order to deal with this deficit, a supermajority of Republicans led to a massive cost cutting spree. [19] In order to draw new businesses to the state, Texas has developed a program of tax incentives to corporations willing to move there. [20] These efforts, along with Texas focusing on developing their natural energy resources, has led to a surplus as Texas begins its next two year budget cycle. [21] [22]

For FY 2011, the top Texas revenue sources by category were approximately: [23] Federal Income: $42,159,665,863.56 Sales Tax: $21,523,984,733.17 Investments: $10,406,151,499.48 Other Revenue: $8,569,805,443.66 Licenses, Fees, Fines and Penalties: $7,741,880,095.57

As of 2008, Texas residents paid a total of $88,794 million dollars in income taxes. [24] This does not include Federal taxes paid by Texas businesses.

Besides sales tax, other taxes include franchise, insurance, natural gas, alcohol, cigarette and tobacco taxes. Texas has no personal state income tax.

Major spending categories

For FY 2011, the top Texas State Agency spending categories were approximately: [25] Public Assistance Payments: $26,501,123,478.54 Intergovernmental Payments: $21,014,819,852.52 Interfund Transfers/Other: $12,319,487,032.40 Salaries and Wages: $8,595,912,992.82 Employee Benefits: $5,743,905,057.61


Texas Voting History - History

Senator John Cornyn and U. S. House Representative Ralph Hall both have won each of their re-elections. If these two elected officials accurately represent Texas then hard-hitting conservatives seem to be what wins the hearts of Texans.Texas Congressional District 4 (TX-04) has proven their steadfast loyalty to Republican candidates (Texas Political Almanac, 2013) and it does not seem plausible that the Democratic Party will be able to overcome TX-04 or Texas as a state any time soon. Liberal democrats may have to stock up on political artillery if they intend to be a recognizable force on the political battleground of Texas. Texas Voting History The Lone Star State: Reliably Republican “You’re not one of the battleground states, although that’s going to be changing soon”.These words were spoken by President Obama, a Democrat, while addressing Texans at a fund-raising event in July 2012 (Parker, 2013).

It has been over 30 years since the Democrats conquered Texas in a presidential election (Parker, 2013). If past poll results in Texas are an indication of future election results, President Obama’s prediction may prove inaccurate. In the last four presidential elections, Texas has not wavered in its support of Republican candidates with one to zero margins between Republican wins and Democrat losses. In recent years the Lone Star State has proven itself to be reliably republican.Texas History: Political Parties Democrats were the leading party up until the 1960’s (Political Parties, 2013). Texas began to take a turn toward the Republican Party when John G Tower, former Democrat (D) turned Republican (R), took the senate seat in 1961.

He was the first Republican senator for Texas since Reconstruction in 1870. Another significant change took place 17 years later when Williams P. Clements became the first Republican Governor of Texas also since 1870. Clements lost his seat four years later in 1982 to a Democrat but ran and won again in 1986 (Texas Politics, 2013).Prior to 1980 there were a limited number of Republican wins. The few wins were mostly in presidential elections.

Texans supported Republican candidates in 1952, 1956, and 1972 however after 1980 Republicans successfully won every presidential election in Texas (Texas Politics, 2013). The Republican Party steadily grew stronger throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. In 1994 both senator seats were held by republicans (Political Parties, 2013). The Republican Party continually kept rising and presently could claim Texas as its own.Republicans currently occupy all elected statewide offices, both state and federal houses of Legislature, and both U. S. Senate seats (Secretary of State TX, 2013). Politico’s presidential election data for Texas shows a narrow margin in 1996 with 49% of the votes for Dole (R) and 44 % for Clinton (D) (Election Central, 2012).

The margin widened when Republican candidate George W. Bush, a native Texan, was on the ticket. In 2000 Bush received 59. 3% of the votes while the Democrat candidate Gore received 38%. In 2004 Bush’s victory in Texas was won with 61. % of the votes cast in Texas, compared to that of Kerry (D) with 38.

3 %. In 2008 the Republican victory in Texas narrowed slightly with the McCain (R) – Obama (D) ticket when 55. 5 % of the ballots were cast for McCain in contrast to 43. 8% for Obama. In the most recent 2012 presidential election Romney (R) received 57. 2 % while Obama (D) received 41.

4% (Texas Political Almanac, 2013). It is important to note that “Although the two major national parties have dominated electoral politics in the state Texas also has spawned significant third parties that have affected national politics” (Texas Politics, 2013).The Reform party, founded by billionaire Ross Perot in the 1990’s, has gained support with a small number of Texas voters.

The Libertarian and Green Parties have experienced growth in Texas (Texas Politics, 2013). The candidates from these parties have affected races statewide by almost 20%. In the 2012 presidential election both the Libertarian and Green Party qualified for the 2012 ballot and resulted in receiving almost 2% of the Texas vote (Texas Politics, 2013). However, in the 2012 elections, Republicans reigned in victory with the Democrats only able to gain a few seats.In the 2013 legislative session, Democrats sit in 55 seats in relation to the 95 seats held by Republicans (Texas Politics, 2013). United States Senator John Cornyn Senator John Cornyn has been in public office for 28 years. Cornyn is described as a “powerful voice for conservative values in Washington” (Biography:John Cornyn , n. d.

). Cornyn’s liberal and conservative voting scores seem to prove this statement to be true. Political Biography John Cornyn is a graduate of Trinity University and St. Mary’s School of Law, both in San Antonio, Texas.Cornyn earned a Masters of Law from the University of Virginia Law School in 1995. Cornyn began his public office career as a District Court Judge for Bexar County, Texas from 1984-1990. He served as a member of the Texas Supreme Court from 1991-1997. Cornyn was elected to the office of Texas Attorney General in 1998 and held that office until 2002 when he was elected to the Senate (Project Vote Smart, 2013).

Cornyn was elected to his second term with 67. 1 percent of the votes in 2008 (Texas Political Almanac, 2013) and is currently still serving out his term.Cornyn served as a member of the Deputy Whip team after just one year in office, and is currently a member of the Republican Senate leadership and has been since 2006. Cornyn was elected in 2012 to serve as Minority Whip for the 113th Congress by Senate Republicans (Biography:John Cornyn , n. d. ).

Cornyn co-sponsored and initiated the reform of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) known as the OPEN Government Act of 2007 (National Security Archive , 2008). Cornyn has won numerous awards during his term in office and currently sits on the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees.Cornyn is also a member of several other committees, both legislative and non-legislative (Project Vote Smart, 2013). Conservative Champion Cornyn was ranked as 2012’s second-most conservative member of the Senate with a score of 93.

8 percent by the National Journal (Terris, 2013). There is a vast contrast in Cornyn’s liberal and conservative voting scores. That’s My Congress gives him a Liberal Action Score of 0/100 and a Conservative Action Score of 40/100 (2013). The top liberal and conservative interest group ratings for Cornyn hold nearly as wide a margin.The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gave Cornyn a score of 25% for 2010-2011. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) scored the senator at 10% for 2011. In 2012 American Conservative Union (ACU) rated Cornyn with a lifetime score of 93 % with a 2012 score of 88%. Christian Coalition of America (CC) has given Cornyn a 100% rating from 2003-2010 (Project Vote Smart, 2013).

These conservative voting scores clearly indicate that Senator John Cornyn holds a conservative political ideology. U. S.

House Representative Ralph HallCongressman Ralph Hall has been in public office for 63 years, serving Texas Congressional District 4 as their U. S. House Representative for 23 years. Congressman Hall is described as a life-long conservative (Ralph Hall, 2013).

Hall’s voting scores and awards are more than sufficient in backing up this claim. Hall’s constituents of TX-04 seem to be satisfied with his representation of them in Washington and Congressman Hall has seemed to make their respect for him, as their representative, a priority. Political Biography Ralph M. Hall joined the U. S. Navy in 1942, serving in World War II until 1945.Hall then attended Texas Christian University in 1943 as well as the University of Texas, Austin from 1946-1947. Hall graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Law degree in 1951 and went on to practice private law in his hometown of Rockwall, (Ralph Hall, 2013).

Congressman Hall began his public office career serving as County Judge of Rockwall County, Texas until 1962. From 1958- 1959 he served as President of the State Judges and Commissioners Association. Hall was elected in 1962 as a Texas State Senator and served in that office until 1972, serving as President Pro Tempore during1968-1969 (Project Vote Smart, 2013).Congressman Hall was first elected to serve the 4th District of Texas in the U.

S. House of Representatives in 1980 and has been re-elected in every election since. Ralph Hall is currently 90 years old, and is the oldest-serving Member of the U. S. House of Representatives in recorded history.

In November of 2012, Hall became the oldest member in the U. S. House of Representatives to ever cast a vote (Ralph Hall, 2013). Conservative to the Core There is little room for doubt that Congressman Hall has maintained a conservative view throughout his political career.That’s My Congress gives Hall a Liberal Action Score of 0/100 and a Conservative Action Score of 71/100 (2013). Liberal and conservative interest group ratings for Hall score his voting record in accordance with a conservative view. The liberal interest groups ACLU and ADA both scored the congressman at 0% for 2011-2012.

Conservative group ACU rated Hall with a score of 85 % for 2011 -2012 and CC has given Hall a 100% rating from 2007-2010 (Project Vote Smart, 2013). In February of 2013 Ralph Hall received the American Conservative Union Ratings Award. Congressman Hall has won this award 32 times.In Hall’s acceptance speech he stated “My constituents believe in America’s founding principles and upholding our Constitution, and I will continue to fight for the priorities and conservative values important to those I represent” (Ralph Hall, 2013). Congressman Hall has a reputation of staying in tune with the needs of his District and their views on relevant issues. Hall is known as a man that “would rather be respected at home than liked in Washington. ” (Ralph Hall, 2013).

Being elected to serve as the U. S. Representative for Congressional District 4 for the past 23 years seems to indicate that he has earned TX-04 respect.Texas Congressional District 4 According to Texas Political Almanac (2013), the total population in 2012 for Texas Congressional District 4 (TX-04) was 698,488, which makes up 2. 7 percent of the entire population of Texas (U. S. Census Bureau, 2013).

The voting history in District 4 of Texas echoes the same loyalty to the Republican candidates as Texas has as a state. However, voting in TX-04 reflects a higher margin of votes for Presidential Republican candidates in comparison to total votes cast statewide. In the 2012 presidential election, polling results statewide were Romney(R) 57. % Obama (D) 41. 4% however, TX-04 results were Romney 74%, Obama 24. 8% (Nir, n. d. ).

Margins for the 2008 and 2004 presidential election mirror near the same percentage ratio. In 2008 TX-04 votes were McCain (R) 68. 9%, Obama 30. 1% and in 2004 the final tally was Bush (R) 70. 4 % ,Kerry (D) 29. 6 % (Texas Political Almanac, 2013).


The Racist History of Voter Registration

I n most states, planning a voter registration drive is like planning a bake sale. In Texas, it&rsquos like planning a heist.

My own life of crime began approximately one year ago, in a Taco Cabana in northwest Houston, where a woman I&rsquoll call Leah led a gang of nervous volunteers through the long list of ways they might inadvertently break the law. Register a voter without first obtaining an official registrar license? Accidentally cross county lines to sign someone up? Copy any information whatsoever&mdasheven just a telephone number, even with a voter&rsquos permission&mdashfrom a registration form? In the Lone Star State, that&rsquos breaking the law.

It would be easy to look at Texas&rsquos dismal voter turnout numbers&mdashconsistently among the nation&rsquos lowest&mdashand conclude that their voter registration system isn&rsquot working. In fact, however, the system is working exactly the way it was designed to. Because throughout American history, voter registration has never just been about keeping track of voters. It has also been about keeping some of those voters from voting. And in Texas, voter registration is a direct legacy of Jim Crow.

Let&rsquos start at the beginning. When the U.S. Constitution was ratified, there was no such thing as voter registration. No registered voters cast a ballot for George Washington or John Adams. The concept didn&rsquot exist. Even when voter lists did arrive, at the beginning of the 19th century, they were mostly limited to New England, and adding eligible names to the rolls was the government&rsquos responsibility.

Yet even these unobtrusive attempts at registration proved controversial. That controversy came to a head in 1831 in Boston, when a man named Josiah Capen arrived to vote and discovered he&rsquod mistakenly been left of the list. He sued a local election official and attempted to have Massachusetts&rsquo voter registration system overturned.

Capen lost. More importantly, his case set a precedent that lasts to this day: even when the right to vote is protected, the complicated logistics of voting are up to lawmakers to decide. In practice, this means that long as politicians believe, or can plausibly claim to believe, that they&rsquore protecting the integrity of our elections, they can pass laws making it harder to vote.

It would be more than a century before every state adopted a statewide voter registration system. But almost immediately following Capen&rsquos case, registration became a tool to legally block eligible voters from the polls. In 1836, Pennsylvania lawmakers set up the state&rsquos first registration system, which relied on assessors to collect information door-to-door. The law applied to Philadelphia&mdashand nowhere else. &ldquoAlthough the proclaimed goal of the law was to reduce fraud,&rdquo writes Alexander Keyssar in The Right to Vote, &ldquoopponents insisted that its real intent was to reduce the participation of the poor, who were frequently not home when assessors came by.&rdquo

In the decades before to the Civil War, rural Whig politicians came up with other ways to reduce urban turnout. New residency requirements targeted city dwellers, who moved around more than those in the countryside. In Louisiana, for example, you were removed from the voting rolls if you left your home parish for longer than 90 days. In other states, lawmakers devised literacy tests to weed out the poor and less-educated, or English-language tests to block recent immigrants. The impact of the new laws was obvious, but because they were at least theoretically fraud-fighting measures, they were upheld in court.

These first registration systems were not just among the earliest forms of voter suppression&mdashthey became a blueprint for Jim Crow. After the Civil War, literacy tests and residency requirements were repurposed to target Black voters. To these, southern lawmakers added repressive new tools of their own. The most pernicious was created in the 1890s, when a populist revolution brought together Black and lower-income white voters throughout the South, and the ruling Democrats responded by creating what became known as &ldquothe poll tax,&rdquo essentially a fee for voting.

Which brings us back to the Lone Star State. In Texas, where the economic system kept nonwhite incomes well below average, even the relatively small poll tax shut many minority voters, not to mention lower-income whites, out of the system. Best of all, where segregationists were concerned, the tax could be enforced selectively. Tax assessors had total control over the voter rolls because they could verify, or deny, that you had paid your tax.

If Jim Crow politicians had gotten their way, the poll tax would still be in place. By the middle of the 20th century, however, the Civil Rights Movement was gradually gaining momentum, and segregationists&rsquo most effective turnout-shrinking tool was under attack. As a result, in 1949 Texas lawmakers passed a kind of insurance policy. If, for any reason, the poll tax disappeared, a new system would automatically spring up to replace it: statewide voter registration.

That&rsquos the real story of how statewide voter registration came to Texas. In 1964, the poll tax was abolished by Constitutional amendment, and Texas&rsquos Plan B kicked in. The first few incarnations of voter registration&mdashincluding a provision that required voters to re-register each year&mdashwere deemed so outrageous that Courts overturned them. But over time, Texas refined its system for signing up voters, creating perhaps the most arduous-yet-still-legal one in the nation.

If you want to know why the volunteers I shadowed had to go to such great lengths to enfranchise their fellow citizens, just remember this. In Texas, voter registration was explicitly designed as a backup plan for segregation. The ghost of Jim Crow still haunts the voter registrars of the Lone Star State.

But it doesn&rsquot have to. A single state or federal law could make voter registration automatic, removing a small part of the racism embedded in America&rsquos political process. For Leah and the rest of her heist-planning gang, a good day might be 20 or 30 new registrations. But a really good day&mdashthe best day&mdashwill be the day they hang up their clipboards for good.


9 Things You May Not Know About Texas

1. Everything really is bigger in Texas.
At 268,596 square miles, Texas is the second largest state behind only Alaska. With 25.1 million people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, it is the second most populous behind only California. Texas has the largest state capitol building and the highest speed limit (85 miles per hour along a stretch of toll road between Austin and San Antonio) it’s also the nation’s leading cattle, cotton and oil producer. “Size always went with macho,” explained Richard B. McCaslin, a history professor at the University of North Texas. “It’s all part of that pride of Texas�ing bigger, stronger, better, faster, richer.” Of course, bigger is not always better: Texas’ adult obesity rate stands at over 30 percent, and it emits more than twice as many greenhouse gases as any other state.

2. Six flags have flown over Texas.
Native Americans have lived in Texas for thousands of years, but it did not become part of a country in the modern sense until Spanish explorers arrived in 1519. The Spanish then essentially ignored it until the 1680s, when the French established an outpost near Matagorda Bay. “That galvanized the Spaniards, [who said], ‘There might not be anything there, but damned if we’re going to let the French have it,’” McCaslin said. Although Mexico’s war of independence pushed out Spain in 1821, Texas did not remain a Mexican possession for long. It became its own country, called the Republic of Texas, from 1836 until it agreed to join the United States in 1845. Sixteen years later, it seceded along with 10 other states to form the Confederacy. The Civil War forced it back into the Union, where it has stayed ever since. The various flags that have flown over Texas—those of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States and the Confederacy—inspired the name of the Six Flags amusement park chain, which originated in Texas in 1961.

3. Texas could have been even larger.
During its period as an independent country, Texas attempted to expand south and west into what was then Mexico. “There was a whole series of expeditions and counter-expeditions and skirmishes and battles,” said Bob Brinkman, coordinator of the historical markers program at the Texas Historical Commission, a state agency. Even after joining the United States, Texas held on to the idea that it would take a large chunk of the Territory of New Mexico. But as part of the Compromise of 1850, which maintained the balance of power between free and slave states, it relinquished claims to roughly 67 million acres in exchange for $10 million to pay off its debt.

4. Texas hosted what was arguably the last battle of the Civil War.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. Yet despite being fully aware of this, Northern and Southern forces squared off the following month in the Battle of Palmito Ranch. “It must have been just a giant mob fight,” McCaslin said in describing the battle, which took place on a coastal prairie east of Brownsville, Texas. Ironically, the Confederates won what is considered—in Texas, at least—the last land action of the Civil War. With cavalry and artillery, the Confederates killed or wounded some 30 opponents, captured more than 100 others and forced the remainder back to a base near the mouth of the Rio Grande. It was a short-lived victory, however, as they agreed to lay down their arms a couple of weeks later.

5. The deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history occurred in Texas.
Galveston, Texas, an island city located about 50 miles southeast of Houston, was once the nation’s biggest cotton port, a playground for millionaires and a major gateway for arriving immigrants. But on September 8, 1900, a Category 4 hurricane slammed the area with a 15-foot storm surge and winds up to 140 miles per hour. Relatively few residents evacuated, in part because U.S. weather forecasters had downplayed warnings from their Cuban counterparts, and an estimated 8,000 people died. “We got caught flat-footed,” McCaslin said. “It was horrendous. The water literally swept over the island.” In the hurricane’s aftermath, Galveston constructed a seawall and raised its elevation with sand from the Gulf of Mexico. Although 48,000 people currently live there, it has never regained its former glory.

6. Two presidents were born in Texas (and neither was named Bush).
Born in Denison, Texas, in 1890, Dwight D. Eisenhower moved to Kansas as a toddler and did not return to the Lone Star State until he was stationed there as a second lieutenant in the Army. Lyndon B. Johnson, on the other hand, was a Texan through and through. He was born one town over from Johnson City, which his relatives had helped settle, grew up and went to college instate, and later served as a U.S. representative and U.S. senator from Texas. He ascended to the White House less than three years after Eisenhower left it. Two more presidents, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, established political careers in Texas, but both were born in New England.

7. 𠇍on’t mess with Texas” started as an anti-litter message.
In the 1980s Texas spent about $20 million a year cleaning up trash along its highways. “It was not uncommon to see cowboys driving down the street tossing a beer can out the window,” said Mark S. Saka, a history professor at Sul Ross State University. As a result, the state Department of Transportation hired an advertising agency to help with its anti-litter campaign. The agency came up with the phrase 𠇍on’t mess with Texas,” which first aired on television during the 1986 Cotton Bowl and has since turned into an unofficial slogan for Texas pride. “It caught on,” Saka said. “I actually have a bumper sticker that says that.”

8. Texas was once the domain of Democrats.
Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 as the first Republican president prompted Texas to leave the Union. The anti-slavery, pro-Reconstruction Republicans remained anathema there for decades to come, losing every presidential election but one until 1952. “This was common throughout the South,” said Saka. Although Texans sometimes identify with the American West, he added, “this is a Southern state historically, culturally, politically and economically.” Cracks in the Democratic majority started becoming noticeable during the civil rights movement and social upheaval of the 1960s. John Tower, a Republican, won Lyndon B. Johnson’s old Senate seat in 1961, and in 1979 William Clements became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Today, Republicans control every statewide office, both houses of the state legislature and two-thirds of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. No Republican presidential candidate has lost the state since 1976. Even so, Democrats are hopeful that Texas will one day turn blue. “The big shift here will be the rise of the Mexican-American population and the shrinking and aging of the Anglo population,” Saka said.

9. Texas could split into five states.
Contrary to popular belief, Texas has no more right to secede than any other state. But its 1845 annexation agreement does permit its division into as many as five states without federal approval. “The joke is that if there were five states, then who would get the Alamo?” Brinkman said. “Or would it be a pie ridge radiating out from that site?” No serious attempt at splitting up Texas has been made since Reconstruction, and the idea has never been tested in the courts. Nonetheless, the state’s hypothetical partition still gets kicked around occasionally. In 1969, for example, a state senator proposed a 51st state within Texas that would be open to parimutuel betting, while in 1991 a state representative introduced a bill to turn the panhandle into a state called “Old Texas.”


The Sorry State of Voting Rights in Texas

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest, and we at the ACLU of Texas work to protect and expand Americans' freedom to vote.

Despite our efforts, politicians across the country continue to engage in voter suppression, efforts that include additional obstacles to registration, cutbacks on early voting, and strict voter identification requirements. In Texas, there remain a number of significant obstacles to the free and fair exercise of the right to vote.

Redistricting is a major issue, for example, with the Supreme Court recently agreeing to hear a case (Abbott v. Perez) involving the drawing of electoral districts in Texas which were found by the U.S. District Court to have been drawn with racially discriminatory intent, to dilute the strength of minority votes.

Additionally, Texas's voter identification laws have been found by three federal courts to have disproportionally burdened voters of color in violation of the Voting Rights Act (Veasey v. Abbott). Notwithstanding those findings, the laws remain in place pending further litigation and appeals.

Texas's voter I.D. laws have been found by three federal courts to have disproportionally burdened voters of color in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Federal courts have also found Texas to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act because of a provision of the State's Election Code which imposes limitations on a language-minority voter's ability to have an interpreter of their choice to assist them in the voting process (Organization for Chinese Americans Greater Houston v. Texas).

On a local level, municipalities across the state are constantly threatening the free and fair exercise of the right to vote. Just this past May, my hometown of Pasadena, Texas held citywide and school district elections that raised a significant number of issues, based on information provided to the ACLU, spanning voter intimidation, language access problems, and the provision of inadequate or misleading information to voters about polling locations, all of which had a disparate impact on the Latino community. For example, a Latino candidate who was on the ballot running for a school board position reported having been left off the voter rolls in his own precinct and given excuses for why he had to vote elsewhere during early voting, until he was finally allowed to vote more than 15 minutes later. The candidate knew enough to be persistent about his right to vote and demanded that poll workers call the county officials to verify his information however, Latino voters in other precincts in Pasadena got frustrated and left without voting. Meanwhile, white voters reportedly took less than five minutes at polling locations going in and out to cast their votes. Observers at the Pasadena elections noted the egregiousness of voter intimidation tactics, with one anonymous U.S. Department of Justice monitor commenting that the DOJ had not seen anything close to this level since the 1960s. The ACLU is still investigating these incidents and others throughout the state.

It is no surprise that my hometown has had its share of racial issues, considering it served for many years as the state headquarters for the KKK. Pasadena's discriminatory past lingers in its political infrastructure and manifests itself in its election system. Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas found that Pasadena's change in its districting plan from eight single-member districts to a hybrid map with six single-district member districts and two at-large districts, which eliminated a Latino district, was motivated by discriminatory intent and violated the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. Pasadena did not challenge the ruling on appeal and chose to settle instead, effectively leaving intact its single-member district system.

One of the main threats to the voting rights of vulnerable communities in Texas is voter intimidation in all its forms. This may include aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to vote, in a manner intended to interfere with the voters’ rights falsely presenting oneself as an elections official spreading false information about voter requirements such as an ability to speak English, or the need to present certain types of photo identification displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud and the related criminal penalties harassment toward non-English speakers, voters with disabilities, and voters of color and changes of polling locations to inconvenient or threatening areas.

Another threat to voting rights in Texas is the effort to make mail-in voting more burdensome. For example, the Texas legislature continues to introduce legislation which affects the ability of Texas residents to exercise the right to vote, including legislation which criminalizes the inadvertent marking of any part of a ballot paper and any conduct which could be interpreted as influencing the vote of another, in the presence of a mail-in ballot paper.

Furthermore, on a macro level, the voting systems in Texas generally do not allow voters to verify their votes by paper. While Texas law does not “prohibit” providing a voting receipt, otherwise known as a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), the pertinent sections of the Election Code do not require voting systems to provide such receipt. The lack of a voter verifiable paper means that post-election audits in most counties in Texas are limited, unreliable, or cannot occur at all. In order to audit election results properly, administrators need access to paper ballots or voter verifiable records. Further, if the statewide voting system is not replaced or regularly maintained, the likelihood of machine failures increases. As errors become more common, public trust in the election process will decline.

The obstacles we have identified, together with other existing and proposed provisions to the election laws in Texas, illustrate the need for ongoing vigilance and action to defend and protect the voting rights of all people in Texas from legislative overreach.

The ACLU of Texas is committed to continuing its vigilance and taking legal action where possible to protect the voting rights of all Texans, and we invite all Texans to join us in our efforts to protect voting rights in the Lone Star State.


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