Of The People – Value Of Quorums – Texas Example
Part 2 of 3
Editorial by Boyd Evan White
The phrases “Our Democracy” and “Western Democracy” try so hard to sound inclusive. Inclusion is not demonstrated just because a system of voting exists; inclusion is demonstrated by the actual number of people who register and vote.
If 90% of the people vote in an instance it might be observed that would satisfy any quorum; regardless of what the outcome may be.
However, if only 10% of the people vote that could hardly be said to meet any prudent quorum; and would reveal just how unsubstantial the phrases “Our Democracy” and “Western Democracy” can be.
There is a use-case example occurring in Texas, during years Texas Constitutional Amendments are submitted to the public, which is disturbing and bears spotlighting to demonstrate what good government should be.
Table of Historical Texas Constitutional Amendment Votes (1993-2019)
If you bring this up in conversation people will commonly say, “Well, it was an off year.” Serious, government has off years? That is news. Compared with the saying “Nature abhors a vacuum” exactly what does an off year mean? How often do you hear the irritating phrases of “Our Democracy” and “Western Democracy” as also having off years?
On a superficial level, as a proponent of small government, these low voter turnouts are encouraging inasmuch they mean people are choosing to exercise their freedom and liberty and do other things than make government the prevailing thing in their lives. Besides the obvious observation that a Quorum would protect Texans if only a low number of people voted, I suspect there are more dire reasons for the low voter.
Texas politicians know the dismal voter participation on these off years; however, there is another statistic that stands out, that is the success rate. In the past thirty years 164 of 181 proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments have passed for a success rate of 91%. What politician would not like those prospects? It is interesting to note the success rate dropped to 84% when only the two years over 15% Registered Voters Participating are counted.
So, if this is a legitimate concern, how could this be remedied? By implementing a Quorum requirement.
For instance, if a 15% quorum of registered voters was instituted on Texas Constitutional Amendments elections, then, 143 of the 164 that passed over the past thirty years would have been voided. And a 15% quorum is a dismally low requirement. A 25% Quorum requirement of Registered Voters would have voided all 181 Texas Constitutional Amendments from 1993 through 2019.
The Communist Party ruled the U.S.S.R. with only an approximate 5% membership of the total population; looking at the years 2001 and 2017 in Texas the percent of the Registered Voters participating was too close to 5%. And when considering the percent of voters compared with the Voting Age Population that is even worse reaching a nadir of 3.77% in 2011.
And it gets worse, in 2011 the percent of Register Voters Participating was 5.37% and Proposed Texas Constitutional Amendment #2 passed with 51.53% of the vote. That means only 2.77% of Registered Voters approved of the Texas Constitutional Amendment. Ye Gads! Is 2.77% to be construed as “Our Democracy” or “Western Democracy”? I can think of a lot of words to describe that situation, none of them good, and Democracy or Democratic Principles are not amongst them.
And now another disturbing observation, what does this example reveal about the implementation of Democratic Principles? That the majority of people are more inclined to make the effort to vote for a candidate/person than they are to make the effort to vote for an Amendment, Bill or Referendum. That is not a good thing. Harking back to the distinction between “The Rule of Man” and the “Rule of Law”…if we did have an “Our Democracy” or a “Western Democracy” then the “Rule of Law” and increased voting participation for Texas Constitutional Amendments should be observed. But if the overriding reason people are drawn to the polls is to vote for a candidate/person, then, that is more like “The Rule of Man” if not “The Cult of Personality.” That is not especially reassuring.
Instead of implementing a quorum, Texas could combine both election types on the same year, like some other States, and thereby increase the likelihood of higher voter participation in the Texas Constitutional Amendments. It is tempting to think cheap of that strategy versus a quorum; however, the objective is to increase voter participation and not to pass judgment on how that is done.
Who makes up the people who are not voting? Lawyers, Bankers, Judges, Carpenters, Civil Servants, Criminals, Sports Stars, Work Shy people, Butchers, Bakers…all those people make up what is commonly called a off year. But let’s be more particular. Of course the races must be considered; above I listed professions; fill in the blank if you are wondering what such-and-such race was doing in these off years. And of course the genders are next; fill in the blank if you are wondering what such-and-such gender was doing during these off years. Now, to be liberal, if you are a Texan and have a profession, a race, and a gender it is no wonder you were busy. Still, that is no reason to have an off year.
I don’t think the stats above can be construed as anything other than a defective implementation of Democratic Principles; however, there is such a simple, elegant solution and protection for Texas Liberty and Freedom; and this is a prudent quorum requirement for Texas Constitution Amendment elections.
“Amicus Texas; sed magis amica veritas!”
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