Voting & Elections in Texas

ASSIGNMENT 1 — read carefully pp 84-86, of the e-text, to get a feel for the difference between DE FACTO, and DE JURE voting barriers.  Not everyone can or should be allowed to vote…we all can agree to this.  The devil is in the details, as always.  The de jure (by law) barriers are mostly sound, but can you see any potential problems with some of them?  The trick to affecting outcomes is to establish circumstantial barriers, that is stacking the deck in favor of one party or candidate, through various other legitimate rules or requirements.  (my definition of a loophole) That is what de facto barriers are–indirect separate facts that amount to the same thing as being denied the right to vote. These types of barriers to participation usually happen through unstated, but effective tactics, for example, making lists of potential felons, or people with the same names as felons, in order to stop them from voting.  For reference, see Florida, 2000, Ohio, 2004, Florida and Pennsylvania 2012….

People get very, very upset when they perceive that their vote doesn’t count, or that they are being denied their right to vote… and I don’t mean their LEGAL right to vote, but the fact of not getting to vote, OR not having their vote count due to ballot problems.  The reason isn’t so much that an individual vote was miscounted, but that the systemic miscounting, or wrongful administration of elections takes away the one legitimate aspect of democracy–the political process.

“De facto” and “de jure” are concepts of law for the most part, but they affect you in your everyday life GieselerTXGovPrint copy.pdffar more that you may realize.  Just think of the literal translation of each –by the fact and by the law.  “By the fact” means as a result, that something turns out the way it does, intentionally.  “By the law” means something occurs/doesn’t occur directly as a law stipulates.  

Another distinction is often used to ban to prevent outcomes are those regarding gender, or age, or national origin…again a DE FACTO barrier…

Sample Scenario #1: (de jure) Airlines can’t establish no-fly lists based on middle eastern nationalities, but they CAN (de facto) refuse to let individuals fly to and from certain countries, without a passport, and fitting a certain profile (having no luggage, 1-way ticket)

Sample Scenario #2:  The Army has a policy that females may serve in any capacity in the Army (de jure).  However, for certain special skills training, a rule states that no one who is pregnant or may become pregnant may serve in these fields.  Thus, females are banned (de facto) (unless the female applicant had a hysterectomy, of course, but the vast majority of young women do not)

Finally, an actual barrier, the grandfather clause:  African American males have the right to vote by 1868, but if one’s grandfather was a slave, one couldn’t vote.  No mention of  race in this barrier, but you get the story…

FOR ASSIGNMENT:  Submit two scenarios of your own, with a de facto barrier/element and a de jure barrier/element.  NOTE:  these can be virtual scenarios, but they need to be about a function of government…  Be creative—I won’t try to psychoanalyze  LOL!    In truth, age, race, gender, religion, and even more importantly, citizenship status are the usual suspects for voting mischief, but not for the reason you think.  It’s that these categories allow an accurate profile of the voter’s political party identity.   Please use government scenarios, ie, registering for school or college, the draft, health care, buying a house, getting a drivers license, etc…


1. Discuss the types of elections, i.e., primary, general, and special, referenda…

2. Explain the purpose of each and how each is administered and regulated. Include a statement on the purpose of a dual primary.

3. When do the different elections occur?

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