The Houston Chronicle reports that half of all voters in Houston city elections are 60 or over.
Here is some of what the Chronicle says:
"About 1 in 5 registered voters in Houston typically participate in municipal elections, and even that figure omits residents who are eligible to vote but are not registered. As a result, the voting base collectively looks far different from Houston's broader population, skewing dramatically older, whiter and more conservative. Two demographic disparities stand out: The median municipal voter in Houston is over 60 years old, meaning half the electorate was born before Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. And in a city where 47 percent of residents are Latino, only roughly 18 percent of the city's voting base will share that background."
This poor turnout and unrepresentative turnout has been going on forever in Houston city elections. It is in good part the result of city council campaigns that focus on base voters only, and of many of our Democratic state legislators and Congresspeople in safe seats who do nothing for turnout in even-year elections---And even more of nothing for turnout in odd-year elections.
There is no culture of consistent voting in Houston. City Council candidates have little interest in citywide strong turnout. Many Democrats running for Houston City Council are strongly focused on winning Republican voters--even as these Republicans vote for people who want to take away our democracy--,and have small investment in building the Democratic Party or in strengthening the cross-racial coalitions essential to protecting and expanding democracy in Houston and Harris County.
Low turnout elections in a racially-divided electorate, accompanied by special-interest funding and the strong influence of law enforcement unions, are no recipe for public safety or democracy.
(An issue with law enforcement unions is they continue to support election-deniers such as Abbott, Patrick and Mealer even after they refuse to accept the outcome of 2022 Harris County elections. There is no public safety when law enforcement unions support election-deniers. There its no public safety without democracy.)
A solution to low turnout city elections is rank and file voters asking more of local candidates and elected officials. These candidates need us more than we need them. At least through Election Day.
Here are some things you can ask candidates running for Houston municipal office in 2023:
Will you make democracy a top issue in your campaign? Will you discuss the issue on your campaign literature and website?
Will you speak up on the loss of our elected school board and continuing efforts to reverse Democratic wins in Harris County in 2022?
What are you doing to increase turnout and involvement in Houston City elections?
Can I count on you to help elect Democrats in Harris County in 2024?
Will you use campaign funds and your influence to help develop and train non-white organizers in Houston? Progressive organizers? Will you use your resources to strengthen pro-democracy forces in Houston?
Will you insist police unions and any group you seek the endorsement of will always support free and fair elections in Texas?
If you are a Democrat, will you openly identify as a Democrat on campaign materials and in public appearances?
The Houston Democracy Project is working everyday to make democracy a top issue in 2023 Houston city politics & to encourage rank and file Houstonians who care about democracy to act on behalf of themselves and their families rather than to wait for elected officials to act.
Please share word of the Project and support the effort with your donation.
I'm Neil Aquino