The incredible increase in Texas voting is particularly remarkable when one considers that the ruling class in Texas, who wrote the state constitution and voting laws, did, and are doing, everything possible to discourage voting by the working class and minorities.
Prior to 1948, African-Americans could only vote in the general election but not in the Democratic Party primaries. Since Texas voted Democratic, that prohibition effectively blocked African-Americans from participating in elections.
Since the 1960’s, ballots had to be also written in Spanish. Prior to then, Latinos had to be able to read English to vote.
In the 1970’s & 1980’s, cities and counties began to dismantle the at-large system, which gives the advantage to the candidate who has the most money and most support from the established politicians. Since then, most cites and counties changed to single-member districts where each district can elect their own representative.
In the 1970’s, the Democratic Party instituted Affirmative Action guidelines so that delegates, including Latinos, Asians, African Americans, women, youth, disabled and lgbt’s would make the delegation representative of the state’s population.
In the 1990’s, Texas passed one of the best early-vote laws in the nation. We are allowed to early-vote for approximately two weeks prior to the election at polling stations located throughout each county.
There are still anti-voting things that go on. For example, to get a bill passed our state legislature, which only meets for a few months every two years, is very complicated and has 27 different ways to stop legislation from getting passed. They nearly passed one of the vicious “voter ID” laws in the last session. There is still voter intimidation and trickery in polling places.
It is important for people across the country to know that there has been great progress toward increased voter participation in Texas, and that we can be a part of changing the direction of our country to one that values real human rights.
--Elaine from Texas
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