By Alex Gonzalez
The latest voter registration data from the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) shows that Texas now has a total of 14,025,441 registered voters, or 12,294,677 “Non-Suspense” voters. The voter registration data also indicates that the top ten counties with the highest registration of voters come from the metro areas like Harris County (Houston) and Dallas County (Dallas), and South Texas (McAllen-Edinburg and El Paso).
I made this above table to show how Texas, despite the fact that it has 254 counties, about 55% of all registered voters in the state come from only 10 counties. The combined voter registration of the four metro areas in the state easily makes about 50% of registered voters in Texas.
This is a big concentration of voting power for only 10 counties because voters in these counties can easily decide the outcome of major statewide referendums like Prop 1 currently on the ballot, and statewide political races.
For example, last year, Texas voters approved Constitutional Amendment Prop 6, a State Water Implementation Fund, with a 76% support. A total of 839,369 voted in favor of Prop 6 and 304,981 voted against. The combined vote for Prop 6 from the 8 counties in the 4 major metro areas with high voter registration was 446,534 in support. Therefore, there were enough voters from those 8 counties to comfortably override any opposition to Prop 6 from voters from all over Texas.
One unfortunate fact is that, the 3 major counties with heavy concentration of Hispanics in South Texas, such as Hidalgo and El Paso—Latinos have a strong voter registration but about a 15 percent lowers turnout than other counties in the metro areas like Houston and Dallas. And this is a pervasive problem that Latino voters will have to work on to amass political clout.
With this high concentration of power in theses counties and metro areas, there is no question that both parties will seek to capitalize on this voter registration trend since these counties were the areas where population growth was about 20 percent between 2000 and 2010; growth rate that has remained almost the same since 2010, according to the U.S. Census.