voting

Erik Hersman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Federal courts aren't showing much love this summer for Texas laws. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the state's 2013 abortion laws impose an undue burden on women, and Wednesday, the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals says the photo ID requirement for Texas voters is asking too much.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard: 

The state broke a record for ballots cast in last week's primary. But Texas still fared poorly among other the 12 states that have held primaries, coming in second to only Louisiana in the country's lowest voter turnout so far. Our weak showing was primarily because Democrats didn't really go to the polls – just 7.2 percent of registered Democrats voted. Places like El Paso – a Democratic stronghold – had a remarkably low turnout.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

Latino voter groups say they are seeing an uptick in legal residents applying for citizenship so they can vote in this year’s presidential election.

The organization Mi Familia Vota held citizenship workshops in six different states this year, including Texas. The group says those events are more popular than ever.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

Voters in primary states begin casting ballots for a new president starting next week.   

So far, many of the presidential front-runners owe their success to their ability to appeal to voter frustration and anger, but other voters say the negative feelings fueling this year’s election are an even bigger concern.

Image via Flickr/Lars Plougmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The longest state constitution in the nation is about to get longer. Texan voters passed all seven proposed amendments to the constitution.

One amendment aims to fix a problem most all Texans are familiar with: transportation. The state's growing population might be good for the economy, but hasn't done the roadways many favors.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

From the Texas Tribune: With more than 90 percent of all precincts counted, statewide measures aimed at cutting property taxes, boosting funding for road projects and reiterating Texans' right to hunt and fish appeared headed toward easy passage Tuesday evening.

KUT News

Today is National Voter Registration Day. And when it comes to getting people to sign up to vote, the focus is often on young people.


William C. Velasquez Institute

He died young and unexpectedly more than 25 years ago, but his political legacy continues today.

The Texas Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry have designated today, Friday, May 9, as Willie Velasquez Day. A fighter for Latino voting rights across the Southwest,  the late activist died suddenly of cancer in 1988 at the age of 44.

flickr.com/ldcross

Early voting starts today for the May 10 municipal elections in cities across Central Texas.

Voters in Bee Cave, Manor, New Braunfels, Round Rock and West Lake Hills are choosing mayors and city council members. Several school districts are also holding bond elections. 

Early voting continues through Tuesday, May 6. Election Day for the municipal elections is Saturday, May 10. A valid photo identification is required to vote in person.

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:

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.

Texas Minority Lawmakers: Keep Voting Rights Act

Feb 25, 2013
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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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