voting

Civic Life
7:59 am
Fri November 8, 2013

The Life of the Civic Party: Austin-Based Institute Works to Get People More Involved

Some people prefer to keep their distance from politics, the Capitol, and civic life. A conference this weekend is one of many efforts try and get people more comfortable with participating.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Voting in elections. Volunteering. Calling up elected officials. All ways to be civically involved. All things that Texans don't exactly do in large numbers.

A study earlier this year by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin found Texas ranks near the bottom on almost every aspect of civic engagement. The state's civic health is bad. The Institute is gathering people together Saturday, Nov. 9, to try to come up with some good medicine.

Institute Director Regina Lawrence talked with KUT's Jennifer Stayton before the conference about how to best get people off the civic sidelines and into the game:

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Politics
2:54 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Obama Forms Presidential Commission To Study Voting Problems

Voters line up into the night outside a Miami polling station, some waiting for hours to vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Wilfredo Lee AP

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 3:30 pm

President Obama has established a new bipartisan commission on election administration, something he promised to do in his Feb. 12 State of the Union address. He signed an executive order Thursday making it official.

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Politics
6:45 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Texas Minority Lawmakers: Keep Voting Rights Act

Represnetative Sylvester Turner speaks about Section V of the Voting Rights Act Monday afternoon.
Bobby Blanchard

Representatives from minority groups are asking Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop fighting Section Five of the Voting Rights Act.

This Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Shelby County v. Holder case, which challenges Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. That's the part of the act that requires federal approval of any changes to voting requirements.

While the Shelby County v. Holder case originated in Alabama, Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fisher said this case resembles Texas cases that might be heard by the Supreme Court. Abbott's appeal of a decision that deeming Texas’ new redistricting maps discriminatory also challenges Section Five.

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Supreme Court
4:08 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Supreme Court To Weigh Constitutionality Of Voting Rights Act

Aug. 6, 1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson presents one of the pens used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to James Farmer, Director of the Congress of Racial Equality.
National Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 2:50 pm

The Supreme Court has agreed to weigh the constitutionality of the decision by Congress in 2006 to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, the landmark Civil Rights legislation enacted in 1965 that let millions of African-Americans cast ballots for the first time in states that had long blocked them from voting booths.

According to Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog:

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2012 Presidential Election
6:49 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Election Day: Six Things Austin Voters Should Know

Line to vote at Murchison Middle School this morning. Voters can go to any polling place this election.
Matt Largey, KUT News

Election Day is here and hundreds of thousands are expected to head to the polls in Travis County. More than 237,000 Travis County voters cast a ballot during early voting—that's a little over 37 percent of registered voters. Traditional voting patterns show that half of registered voters don't vote until Election Day.

More Texans than ever before are registered to vote in this election—13.64 million people. Presidential elections typically bring more voters to the polls. In 2008, more than 402,000 Travis County residents voted in the presidential election.

Here are six things you should know if you're headed to the polls today:

1. Registered Travis County Voters Can Vote Anywhere in the County:

For this election, Travis County Commissioners approved vote centers. That means registered voters can forget about their precincts and cast a ballot anywhere in the county with a 'vote here' sign. These places include schools and libraries along with locations used for early voting such as grocery stores.

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2012 Presidential Election
2:54 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Swing-State Billboards Warning Against Voter Fraud Stir Backlash

An anonymous "family foundation" is paying for billboards warning against voter fraud, like this one in a minority neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland. Clear Channel, which owns the space, says the anonymity violates its policies but it will not take the ads down.
Ken Barcus NPR

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 7:00 pm

Dozens of anonymous billboards have popped up in urban areas in the crucial battleground states of Ohio and Wisconsin. The signs note that voter fraud is a felony, punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Civil rights groups and Democrats complain that the billboards are meant to intimidate voters.

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The Lead
9:03 am
Tue October 16, 2012

The Lead: Aerial Surveillance, Cyber Warfare, Cuts Coming at AMD?

Good morning. Austin can expect cloud coverage for most of the day, and the occasional shower. The National Weather Service says we can a 40 percent chance of rain today. Here's some of KUT’s top stories this morning:

Here's  more stories of interest from Central Texas: 

  • Cyber Warfare Here To Stay; Austin Could Play Key Role (KVUE)

"It's a spy versus spy kind of world," said Ken Phillips, business development manager at Overwatch Textron Systems. The Austin-based business is developing the latest line of defense against cyber threats, which focuses on security at the file level in order to overcome internal leaks or systems that have been compromised.

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Why Bother?
1:57 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Getting Millennials to Bother Voting

A voter registration table at Tuesday night's "Why Bother?" taping.
flickr.com/utcomm

With barely half of eligible 18 to 29 year-olds voting in 2008, it seems many young citizens look at the political process and ask, “Why bother?”

KUT News has begun a reporting and outreach series this topic. It's part of a broader initiative, "Why Bother? Engaging Texans In Democracy Today," in partnership with the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and KLRU-TV, Austin PBS.

Our first forum, “Why Bother? Voices of a New Generation,” is airing tonight on on KUT 90.5 and on KLRU, both at 8 p.m. 

The series and our taping on Tuesday has already inspired some conversation.

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Voting
3:59 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

How to Register and Where to Vote in Austin

Third-party voting apps like Rock the Vote feature more streamlined information on voting and voter registration.
rockthevote.com

KUT News has received a lot of feedback on “Why Bother,” our series on voter engagement. Suggestions that include ideas for making voting and voter registration easier, personal recollections and more. We expect to hear more tonight, at a taping of “Why Bother? Voices of a New Generation,” in KLRU’s Studio 6a.

But one criticism KUT News has received involves the existing process potential voters need to take to vote – and whether local news organizations, including KUT, have done enough to make that process understandable.

A blog post by a local web designer, A. Lista, questions why KUT is probing voter disengagement when the actual process to voting is itself convoluted. The blog shows step by step what happens when one searches “how to vote austin tx” on Google. Seven screens later, the author says she is “exhausted, frustrated, and pretty annoyed with all the extremely unhelpful government websites:”

Both the local news and KUT have suggested many times that voters are apathetic and unengaged, but like the government, neither has aired simple instruction on how to actually go about voting. How do you know you’re registered? Where do you go to vote? These things are confusing.

Registering to vote in Texas isn’t that easy: one suggestion we’ve heard is that online registration would make things a lot easier. But Texas law requires voter registration cards to be sent in by mail or hand delivered in-person.

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Politics
4:06 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Money, Marriage and a Mortgage: The Formula For More Voters

Then-candidate Barack Obama addresses an Austin crowd in 2008. While the 2008 election saw an increase in young voters, still roughly half of voters 29 and under turned out.
KUT News

Could you create a mathematical formula to increase voter turnout?

The idea may sound far-fetched. But Travis County clerk Dana DeBeauvoir has an idea on what it might look like.

“It has to do with how well each voter is connected to their local community,” DeBeauvoir tells KUT News. “For example: Do you own a house? That’s a point. Do you have children in school? That’s a point. All of those add up.  And it turns out that people that have the most points of connection with their community are the people who vote.”

DeBeauvoir notes those variables are “roughly all about how old you are. It takes a while to get connected.” And those factors may have a lot to do with why young Texans are sitting out elections.

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Why Bother?
1:20 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

With So Many Registered Voters, Why is Austin Turnout So Low?

The voter registration drive at the Travis County offices today. While county voter registration is high, turnout is another matter.
facebook.com/TravisCountyTaxOffice

Today is National Voter Registration Day, a push to get voters on the rolls before registration ends. (In Texas, that’s Oct. 9.)

According to a statement from the Travis County’s voter registrar, the county “enjoys the highest voter registration rate (78%) among urban counties in Texas.” That’s some 607,000 county residents. As part of National Voter Registration Day, officials want to swell that number to 650,000.

But will more registered voters actually lead to more votes and more engagement?

“There are about 460,000 registered voters here inside the city of Austin,” local political consultant Mark Littlefield tells KUT News. “We have about 79,000 likely voters in a City Council election. If it is a municipal election where there is no hot mayor’s race, you are looking at turnout of 30,000, about eight percent.”

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Politics
10:34 am
Tue September 25, 2012

It's National Voter Registration Day - Are You Registered?

Voter Registration Day comes two-weeks before the Oct. 9 registration deadline.
flickr.com/athrasher

Several voter registration events are scheduled around town today for National Voter Registration Day.

The Travis County Tax Office on Airport Boulevard will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. to register voters.

The League of Women Voters and the Austin Community College student chapter of Unite Women will help people register to vote on ACC campuses today.

And both the Travis County Republican and Democratic parties are opening up their headquarters to help people register.

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Politics
3:39 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Thousands of Texans Registered to Vote at Wrong Addresses

State lawmakers heard testimony about the benefits and risks of mobile voting.
flickr.com/whiteafrican

Texas lawmakers heard today that there are at least 4,100 people in the Houston area alone that are registered at an address that is not their home.

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart told the House Elections Committee this morning that many of those people are registered at addresses at places like Mail Boxes Etc. or UPS. The problem is, he says, that these voters then may be casting a ballot in the wrong district.

Stanart said that state law gives voters too much latitude with their registration address  –  which he argued could lead to abuse and fraud.

“A number of people actually saying ‘I’m going to register at this UPS location’ and if a significant number of people actually did something like this, you could actually turn a state rep’s election," Stanart said.

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Am Update: 9/21/12
8:44 am
Fri September 21, 2012

AM Update: New Hispanic Population Stats, Dead Voter Purge Delay, Cost-Effective School Spending

It's probably no surprise that Texas is home to some of the nation's largest Hispanic populations.
Pew Research Center/2010 ACS

The Clean Air Force of Central Texas is forecasting another ozone day. The group is predicting an "unhealthy" or Orange Level day. Here is a roundup of some stories making news this morning:

Austin Home to Country's 20th Largest Metropolitan Hispanic Population

A new report by the Pew Research Center shows the nation's Hispanic population is fairly concentrated. The report analyzed census data from the 2010 American Community Survey. It found "nearly half (45 percent) of the nation’s Hispanic population lives in just 10 metropolitan areas."

Four Texas metropolitans are home to some of the nation's largest Hispanic populations. Houston ranks #2, Dallas-Fort Worth is #6, San Antonio ranks #9 and Austin comes in at #20.

According to the ACS data, Austin has a Hispanic population of 502,000, which makes up 31 percent of the city's total population. Hispanics make up an even larger portion of Austin's younger population. Among Austinites under 18 years old, 42.3 percent are Hispanic. More than a quarter (28.9 percent) of Austin's Hispanic population were born outside of the United States.

Of the 60 metropolitan areas with the largest Hispanic populations, two areas have Hispanic populations that make up more than 90 percent of residents: Laredo (#36 on the list) is 96 percent Hispanic, McAllen (#13) is 91 percent Hispanic.

Delay in Dead Voter Purge

State District Judge Tom Sulak has temporarily prevented Texas from ordering counties to purge possibly dead voters from their registration rolls.

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