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Do we have a problem with voter turnout? The answer depends on your perspective.

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 “Canvass” reports for the most recent (March 1, 2022) Primary Elections. 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 March, 2022, primary elections 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 (https://harrisvotes.org.) and enter your street 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. How does your neighborhood compare to the county in terms of turnout in each primary? Why do you think that is? What do you think makes your neighborhood more or less Republican or Democratic than the county as a whole? What do you think makes your neighbors more or less likely to participate than the county as a whole? Finally, do you think we should do anything as a society to increase voter turnout, and – if so, what?
Hint: a voting precinct is like a neighborhood. It’s unlikely to have more than a couple thousand people. If you’re trying to tell me how tens of thousands of people voted in your precinct, you’re doing it wrong.
Important Note: The new format for election result makes this assignment a little harder to do that before. It’s not easy to find, but the total number of registered voters in Harris County for the March primary elections was 2,498,570. Knowing that, you can look at the “Ballots cast” number at the top, right corner of each page and get the number of people who voted in the Democratic Primary, then use your scroll bar to get to the Republican part and look at the “Ballots cast” number for that primary. Do the math to get the turnout percentage (Ballots cast/2,498,570 for each one). Remember, in Texas, we only register as voters, not as Republicans or Democrats. For primary elections, you can choose either one, but you can’t vote in both.
Submit in Word. Cite your sources.
Additional Resources
What does my voting precinct look like? Get the number first, but then go here and use the pull-down menu to look at a map of your voting precinct: https://www.hctax.net/Voter/VoterMaps
Professor Brandon Rottinghaus at U of H has a great breakdown of the 2022 Primary turnout results in context with other elections: https://medium.com/@bjrottinghaus/texas-2022-primary-analysis-84fe1515c67d
Australia:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ruth-marcus-a-case-for-compulsory-voting/2014/11/04/9b486afe-6463-11e4-836c-83bc4f26eb67_story.html
Pay people to vote: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/04/03/should-we-pay-citizens-to-vote/

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