Constitutional Amendment Elections

Assignment #1: Turnout in Constitutional Amendment Elections

The most common way to amend the Texas Constitution is through the special election process. These constitutional amendment elections are typically held in off-years, and are usually the only items on the ballot. What does this mean for the people’s knowledge of, and participation in, changing our governing document? Let’s find out!

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First, read this Texas Tribune article about the 2019 constitutional amendment election: https://www.texastribune.org/2019/11/06/texas-2019-election-voter-turnout/

Go to the “Turnout and Voter Registration” page on the Texas Secretary of State’s webpage:

http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/historical/70-92.shtml

Create a chart that tracks voter turnout for each of the November (general) elections from 2001-2019** (these will be marked as either “General, November (Gubernatorial),” “Special, November (Constitutional),” or “General, November (Presidential).”

Discuss these results, considering the following:

  • Compare and contrast the turnout rates between election types.
  • What do your findings say about the participation rates in Constitutional Amendment elections?
  • Who is likely to benefit from this method of amendment, and who is likely to be disadvantaged?
  • Do you think this is an adequate method of changing a constitution? Why or why not?
  • Assume you are a member of the Texas Legislature: what recommendations would you make to increase the visibility of and participation in these elections?

** Please note: In 2003, the Constitutional amendment election was held in September, rather than November (for reasons I cannot remember). Please include this election, too.

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