By Alex Gonzalez
Latinos in Texas should stop complaining about voter rights. They should also shake off the idea being pushed by U.S. Attorney General Erick Holder that Latinos are being victimized with laws to suppress their Vote. I am not suggesting that there has not been harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric in some conservative circles, but those who are native Texan citizens but are not voting have no excuse to complain about it. If indeed there is voter suppression in Texas, the laws being passed by the legislature is not what is hurting them. It is the idleness, or apathy, among Latino voters that is really at fault. Additionally, this idleness is hindering their own political advancement and the taking control of the political establishment in Texas . In other words, if Latinos don’t like laws, they just need come out for hibernation and vote in someone that will change the laws. Sadly, tough there are enough Latino voters–and “white” voter apathy—in Texas that would allow Latinos to take control in politics, but still, Latinos are not taking advantage of dismal turnout in the state.
There is no rational explanation, other than idleness, on why Latinos in Texas should not be picking the next U.S. Senator or even the Governor in 2014 in the Lone Star State. For example, of the 11 million of registered voters, only 1.3 million of Republican voters showed up on primaries on June 29th, 2012. The runoff on July 31st will bring back only 1/3 of the voters ( 450,000), and it is likely that it will require fewer than 300,000 people to choose the winner in the Republican primary. If this primary chooses the next senator — it looks like a reasonable bet, given recent history — then it stands to reason that this small concentration of Texans will choose the next U.S. Senator to Represent Texas. In a state where only 300, 000 Republican voters are able to pick the next U.S. because 4 million of eligible voters and 2.3 million of Latinos voters in Texas are already registered to vote do not come out and vote, is perplexing. Why do Latinos not want to take this chance and send the message to the Republican Senatorial candidates that if choose to tinker with Latino communities with phony numbers regarding immigration, you will not elected. At present, this is a possibility.
As the Texas tribune points out, If everyone who is eligible voted, it would take more than 9 million votes to become a senator from Texas. Instead, since only 1/3 of voters that voted in the primaries-1,3million– will vote again on July 31th, every vote cast for the winner of the Republican primary runoff on July 31th effectively represents the power of 30 adults going to the polls.
As a result, out of 25 million the turnout in Texas is so dismal that only a few million decide who wins for the gubernatorial and Congressional seats. For example the Dallas news article on Monday posited a very interesting article arguing that, though Texas has a lot of political clout in Congress, “Texas is a loser in voter turnout.” The Lone Star State can claim four presidents, powerful leaders in Congress and just about the worst voting record at the same time.
Texas in the last eight national elections has placed no better than 45th among all states in the percentage of eligible citizens who vote. The low point: 2010, when Texas was dead last. Why does it fare so badly at election time? 1. YOUNG VOTERS. With its diverse population, and correspondingly lower education and income levels, Texas abounds in factors that dampen turnout. Chief among them: politically apathetic youngsters. 2. The Hispanic bloc is large but politically sluggish. Texas is a “majority-minority state” with a large, fast-growing Hispanic population. But that group tends to vote in lower percentages than non-Hispanic whites and blacks. Though other large states have somewhat similar demographic profiles, none faces the same challenges as Texas, said Rice University researcher Steve Murdock. The median age here is 33.6, lower than Florida’s 40.7 or New York’s 38. And while Texas has roughly the same Hispanic composition as California — 38.1 percent each — California’s median household income is $9,000 higher.
The state’s open political system that allows voters to cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican primary may sound like good idea, but only 46.5 percent of Texans vote. Also, according to the Dallas News Staff who wrote the article, Texas’ rate in those national elections is lower than that of California (54 percent), Florida (53 percent) or New York (51.8 percent). The Texas’ turnout of 36.4 percent two years ago was the country’s worst.
The reality is that Texas will elect a Republican candidates to the U.S. Senate in November ( with only 46% turnout). Therefore, Latinos will better off voting with a Republican ballot than voting with a Democrat ballots since a vote for Democrat candidate is a wasted vote. Voting Republican, Latinos can have better chance of electing a candidate that will represent their interests in the U.S. Senate if they vote for a Republican candidate.
And Latinos can easily take over the Republican runoff since under state law voters can cast a ballot for either a Republican or a Democrat. Latinos can overwhelmingly decide this runoff and vote against any Republican they believe to be unfriendly to the Mexican-American communities with disrespectful rhetoric. Or, since turnout is so dismal, and since Latinos will become the majority in short 10 years, Latinos can start paving the way vote against a candidate that they perceive will not protect the interests of Latinos in the U.S. Senate.
The numbers are there for Latinos in Texas to shake up the Republican Establishment and go for the kill, but they just need to stop napping. There is a large number of Latino voters in Texas, and 300,000 is nothing compared to the clout power of electing a US Senator who Latinos can call when they need an amigo in Congress. So enough with the whining of voter ID Suppression pushed by Obama and Erick Holder, get your ID (it is free!), or vote early if you think you will be chastised because you look “too Latino.” Your vote will be worth 30 times during the runoff. No excuses!