Voting Rights Guaranteed in Texas Constitution Systematically Denied in the Lone Star State

Share Article

A new research report by Texans for Voter Choice (TVC) demonstrates that voter rights guaranteed by the Texas Constitution are being undermined by the state’s ballot access laws, which impose some of the most restrictive regulatory and financial barriers in the nation.

State Director Carly Rose Jackson said: “Texas has a culture of individual independence and self-governance, but unfortunately for millions of Texans, their right to cast a ‘meaningful’ ballot for the candidate of their choice is violated or infringed in every election.

A new research report by Texans for Voter Choice (TVC) demonstrates that voter rights guaranteed by the Texas Constitution are being undermined by the state’s ballot access laws, which impose some of the most restrictive regulatory and financial barriers in the nation.

TVC reviewed all State Senate and House races in November general elections between 1992-2016. Data shows that in the State Senate - 30% of the races - and in the State House - 48% of the races – millions of Texans were denied the right to cast a meaningful vote because there was only one candidate on the ballot.

As explained in the report: THE DENIAL OF VOTER CHOICE IN THE LONE STAR STATE- HOW VOTING RIGHTS GUARANTEED BY THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION ARE SYSTEMATICALLY the current process protects incumbents and reinforces the status quo by giving Republican and Democratic party candidates automatic access to the ballot through taxpayer subsidized primaries. At the same time, it subjects their potential challengers to a regulatory scheme so complicated and onerous that merely attempting to participate in the electoral process drains the resources of all but the wealthiest candidates or parties.

New or minor parties are required to comply with high signature requirements, a short signature collection window, early filing deadlines as well as a long and complicated list of additional requirements and restrictions. In 2016 they could expect to pay a minimum of $210,000, and an independent candidate for president $360,000 primarily because this necessitates the hiring of professional petition circulators who currently charge at least $3 per signature.

The report’s findings raise serious questions with respect to whether Texas ballot access laws violate Article 1. Sec 2, and Art. 6. Sec. 2(c) provisions of the Texas Constitution. How can Texans “alter, reform or abolish their government” a right protected in Article 1. Section 2 when they have no meaningful choice about whom they elect to represent them?

What does the state constitutional guarantee of free suffrage in Article 6 section 2(c) mean when in almost half of the elections for the state house over the last 24 years, voters were denied a meaningful vote because there was one candidate running unopposed on the ballot? How can the five million Texans not associated with a political party cast a meaningful vote when their perspective is not represented on the ballot?

"The Texas Voter Choice Act, HB 3608, was introduced in the Texas House in 2017 to restore and protect voter rights by establishing reasonable signature requirements and filing deadlines for all candidates, while eliminating the unnecessary procedural barriers that make obtaining ballot access so burdensome and expensive for candidates running outside the taxpayer subsidized Republican and Democratic primaries. Supporters expect the bill to be reintroduced in 2019. Read the full report here: http://texasvoterchoice.org.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Todd Main

Carly Jackson
@TXvoterschoice
Follow >
Visit website