TXDecides

This legislative session, public radio stations across Texas are answering voters' questions about the elections. 

KUT has partnered with Houston Public Media, KERA News in Dallas, San Antonio's Texas Public Radio, Marfa Public Radio and Texas Standard to tackle crowdsourced questions from voters all over the state.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers debate a flurry of bills ahead of sine die, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question comes from Eric Staib: 

Greg Abbott seems to make the news more often than governors in other states I've lived in. How powerful is the Texas governor compared to other states? 

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question comes from Jane Shaughness: 

What is the best way for the average citizen to get engaged with redistricting?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Voters don't like Congress. Only about 40 percent of the country approves of the job the president is doing. And, because of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on elections, people feel like their voices don't count as much as a large campaign donation.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question, submitted by Charles Douglas III:

What is a typical ratio between the number of bills proposed versus the number of bills voted on during a legislative session?

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question:

Why do lawmakers meet for 140 days every two years? Why not annually and for longer? How can good discussion happen?

MIT

Gov. Greg Abbott spent more than a year speaking and writing about the need to pass a series of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, in order limit the power of the federal government. His chosen vehicle: invoking Article V of the Constitution to call a “convention of states.”

So when Abbott took the stage to deliver his State of the State message in January, there was every reason to expect he would spotlight the issue. But Abbott went one step further, designating it as one of his top four priorities for the legislative session.

“Senator Birdwell and Representative Phil King, you know as well as I do that the future of America cannot wait for tomorrow,” he said. “So I am declaring this an emergency item today.”

Wikimedia Commons

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Texas Legislature gaveled in just a few short weeks ago. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery for KUT

The Texas Legislature gaveled in just a few short weeks ago. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today’s question comes from Gerryl Krilic:

When a bill is presented, what is the process? How many votes required to pass a bill?

That Other Paper/Flickr

The 2017 Texas Legislative session is underway. State legislators meet every other year for 140 days in a frenzy of debating (sometimes arguing), deal-making, stand-taking, bill-killing and, occasionally, law-making.

For the past few weeks, we've been asking what you want to know about the Legislature: how it works, why it works the way it does and what you want lawmakers to do.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Texas Legislature gaveled in just a few short weeks ago. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question comes from Sammi Curless: 

What powers to govern are assigned to the governor versus the lieutenant governor versus the Texas Legislature?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Texas Legislature gaveled in just a few short weeks ago. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Last week we launched TXDecides, our collaborative project with public radio newsrooms across the state. The goal was simple: Answer Texas voters' questions ahead of Election Day. Y'all had lots of questions. So many, in fact, that we had to pare down the questions to a scant five.

Luckily, we culled some of the remaining questions and decided to answer them as best we could. 

Since 1972, Texas has had a lower voter turnout rate than the national rate for presidential elections.

Why Is Voter Turnout So Low in Texas?

Oct 28, 2016
Erik Hersman via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

In recent years, voter turnout in Texas has been…well, let’s just say not everything is bigger here.

State voter turnout has been below the national average for the past few decades, regularly falling below 50 percent. All this week, public radio stations across Texas are answering your election questions, as part of our TXDecides reporting series. Steven Kellman of Antonio wanted to know why turnout is so consistently low in Texas.

PHOTOS BY THE TEXAS TRIBUNE AND GAGE SKIDMORE

It’s no secret Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are two of the most disliked major party nominees to ever run for President.

That has some Texans searching for other options – any options – when it comes to our next commander and chief. Austinite Kaia Tingley asked: “Can we vote for either Libertarian or Green Party candidates in Texas?”


Shutterstock

All 36 of Texas’ congressional seats are on the ballot this fall, but only one of those races is considered truly competitive. The vast majority of state House and Senate races aren’t particularly competitive, either. One big reason: A lot of the state's districts are drawn to give one party or the other a big majority.

“It is always true in sports and in politics that the rules are going to affect the way the game is played. And that is not any less true in redistricting,” said Rebecca Deen, who chairs the political science department at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Al Ortiz / Houston Public Media

Joan Cunningham grew up in Canada and remembers watching people vote the old fashioned way: Fill out a paper ballot, drop it in a box. She understands electronic voting machines can be more efficient.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

We all know Texas is a red state. Democrats haven't won a statewide election since 1994, and Republicans have carried the state in every presidential election since 1976.

The question of how that came to be got Gilda Garcia wondering, so she asked TXDecides – our statewide public radio collaborative that's answering Texas voters' questions ahead of Election Day.

"I remember growing up my parents talking about Texas being all Democratic – period," Garcia said. "So what happened?"

In short, it's complicated.