Elections and Voting

Do we have a problem with voter turnout?

The answer depends on your perspective.

Certainly, it’s a shame that not every eligible voter participates in the process. Consider what our predecessors had to do for you to have the right to vote. Not bothering to exercise that right is – at best – disrespectful to the memory of those who gave their lives so that you could have this privilege.

On the other hand, if you’ve ever been involved in any organization – a church, a civic club, a school organization, you know that there is a small, core group of people that ends up making all the decisions. It’s just human nature. Why should a government organization be any different?

Should we make people vote, like they do in Australia? Should we pay people to vote, as Yale Law School Professor Stephen Carter suggests?

Do we really have a problem at all?

Go to the Harris County Clerk’s website, www.harrisvotes.com

Click on “Election Archives” under “Election Results,” and notice that there are “Cumulative” and “Canvas” reports for the most recent (November 6, 2018) General Election. The cumulative report tells what happened in Harris County as a whole. The Canvas report give individual results for each voting precinct – which is a specific neighborhood.

Write a 2 – 5 page essay about voter turnout in the November, 2018 General Election in Harris County, and in your voting precinct. If you don’t know your voting precinct, look on your voter registration card, or click HERE and enter your street address. If nobody at your address is registered to vote, go HERE (Links to an external site.) and enter your address. If you don’t live in Harris County, use a friend’s address. Make sure you give specific turnout numbers and percentages for the county as a whole, and for your precinct. Discuss what you found. Look at the race for U.S. Senate between Ted Cruz (R) and Beto O’Rourke (D). Which candidate got more votes county-wide? Which one got more votes in your neighborhood? How does your neighborhood compare to the county in terms of turnout and partisan balance? Why do you think that is? Finally, do you think we should do anything as a society to increase voter turnout, and – if so – what?

Sample Solution