County elections judges across Texas are scrambling. A historic number in the Lone Star State – 15 million -have registered to vote in Tuesday’s election. Early voting hit historic highs, so crowds are expected on Election Day.
Still, voters have some questions about the election process, as public radio reporters found out when we launched a project called #TXDecides. We asked Texans to send us the election questions they most wanted us to answer. Then we delivered on the queries posed most often:
- Why Is Voter Turnout So Low In Texas?
- Can We Vote For Third Party And Write-In Candidates In Texas?
- How Secure Is Electronic Voting In Texas?
- How Did We Get Such Weird Looking Congressional Districts?
- Why Is Texas Red And How Did It Get That Way?
Why Is Voter Turnout So Low In Texas?
Despite record numbers of early voters this year, turnout in Texas has typically fallen below the national average for the past few decades. That led Marfa Public Radio’s Travis Bubenik to answer the question that came from Steven Kellman of San Antonio:
“Why do most Texans eligible to vote not bother to cast a ballot?”
Can We Vote For Third Party And Write-In Candidates In Texas?
It’s no secret - Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are two of the most disliked major party nominees to run for president. Kaia Tingley of Austin is searching for options and asked:
“Can we vote for either Libertarian or Green Party candidates in Texas?”
Texas Public Radio's Ryan Poppe checked out the rules for third-party and write-in candidates.
How Secure Is Electronic Voting In Texas?
With talk of “rigged” elections, there’s more concern than usual this year about verifying the vote. Three of the state’s largest counties: Bexar, Harris, and Travis– use paperless, electronic voting systems. So Joan Cunningham of San Antonio asked:
“How will vote recording errors and even fraud be prevented where paper records are not created and kept? “
Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider has the answer.
How Did Texas End Up With Oddly Drawn Congressional Districts?
Tim Campbell of Austin moved into a congressional district that stretches for hundreds of miles from the border to Central Texas. He was puzzled and asked:
“How have Texas district lines been drawn? What's the political fallout?”
Christopher Connelly from KERA in North Texas explains.
Why Is Texas Red And How Did It Get That Way?
Democrats haven't won a statewide election since 1994, and Republicans have carried the state in every presidential election since 1976. Gilda Garcia of San Antonio wondered:
"I remember growing up my parents talking about Texas being all Democratic...period. So what happened?"
Ben Philpott from KUT in Austin says it’s complicated.