Texas seen last in voting

Cal Jillson, political scientist at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, talks about the extended circumstances of Texas ranking last in voter turnout.

By Peggy Fikac

AUSTIN — If Texans abide by the mantra, “if you don't vote, don't complain,” they should be the least-complaining bunch in the nation.

Texas ranked 51st in voter turnout in 2010 — behind the other states and Washington D.C. — and 49th in the number of citizens who contact public officials, according to the study released by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin and the National Conference on Citizenship.

The state's slacking continues when it comes to civic participation rates, ranking 43rd in donating and 42nd in volunteering, according to the Texas Civic Health Index....

registration, allowing qualified people to register and vote on election day, she said.

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson called the study a “very good compilation” of the data.

Jillson contended that Texas hasn't made a real effort to drive voter registration or turnout, and has tamped down participation through an aggressive purge of voter rolls, a redistricting plan found to intentionally discriminate against minorities and passage of a voter ID law that also has been blocked as discriminatory.

 Jillson said those efforts, pushed by the GOP majority, keep voting low among those least likely to vote and also least likely to support Republicans — Hispanic and African American voters.

“Texas is a red state, and so the Republican Party has relatively little interest in actively working to increase voter registration among minorities, who tend to vote principally for Democrats,” Jillson said....