Political campaigns in Harris County, Texas have a major effect on voter turnout. This was made evident during the recent municipal elections in Houston, where experienced candidates purchased lists of voters from the Harris County Clerk's Office. According to Rice University political scientist Dr. Stein, these changes could potentially boost participation in Texas.
The Texas House of Representatives recently gave final approval to two bills that would affect elections in Harris County, the third most populous county in the country. Political scientists pay close attention to voter turnout and analyze all the factors that influence who will and will not vote in an election. Factors such as a party's dominance in the state and a state legislature that does not facilitate participation can play a role, according to Sean Theriault, professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. One of the bills, SB 1933, could give the Texas Secretary of State administrative oversight of a county office that administers elections.
The Obama administration blocked this law before it could be implemented because Texas was on the prior authorization list of the Voting Rights Act. Texas employers are required to offer employees two paid hours off to vote, but some suggest that making Election Day a national holiday or holding more elections on weekends could increase turnout. The House of Representatives amended the second bill this week to apply only to counties with more than 4 million inhabitants, which is currently just Harris County. Advocates of voter identification requirements in Texas view the increase in identification requirements as a way to prevent in-person voter impersonation and raise public confidence in the election process.
However, Republicans have said that the November results were affected because issues related to voting arose in electoral districts with high numbers of voters. Many of the legal challenges to the November elections in Harris County involve voters who were unable to vote. The impact of political campaigns on voter turnout in Harris County is undeniable. It is essential for political scientists and other experts to continue studying how different factors can influence voter participation and how these factors can be addressed. This will help ensure that all citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in elections and make their voices heard.