2014 Archives

Texas GOP, Democrats differ in approach to registering voters


The following is from the Oct. 6, 2014, edition of The Dallas Morning News. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

October 10, 2014

Austin Bureau 

AUSTIN — Republicans and Democrats are scurrying to register potential voters before Monday’s deadline, but as with most issues, they disagree on strategy.

The state Republican Party is targeting people who have recently moved to Texas from another state or who switched counties within the state, and who have a history of voting Republican. Battleground Texas, a Democratic group aiming to make Texas elections competitive, is reaching out to people who have never registered to vote or seldom vote.

Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. According to the Texas secretary of state’s office, 27 percent of voting-age Texans cast a ballot during the last midterm election in 2010.

Monday is the deadline to send in a registration request. The Nov. 4 elections include contests for governor, congressional offices and county posts, along with ballot initiatives. . . 

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said turnout among affluent whites is three times that of low-income, high-school-educated and minority residents, and they tend to vote more Republican.

"As you move down the age scale, education scale and income scale, those demographics" are more likely to vote Democratic, Jillson said. With an approach that welcomes any registrants, "Battleground Texas is figuring, ‘we’re going to accidentally get a few Republicans, but we’re going to get more of our people.' "

Jillson said the best way to get people in these demographics to cast a ballot is to talk to them about the issues. For example, most rely on the public education system for their children, and Democrats want to increase funding. Some would also benefit from an expansion of Medicaid, which Republicans have resisted, he noted.

“If you talk to them in terms of issues, and the way Democrats’ positions on the issues could advantage them if they would disturb themselves to vote, you might get some movement,” Jillson said.

Read the full story.

# # #