The 2018 Texas primary season is in full swing, but the return of elections is likely to bring a return of a recurring issue in Texas---the state's low voter participation rate. For several years, Texas has ranked near the bottom among all states for voter turnout, especially in primaries and non-presidential elections. Many theories abound about the reason for Texas' weak turnout, but a new analysis from the Texas Tribune shows the state's demographics are a factor.
Everyone knows that Texas has a huge population, and a large and growing proportion of it is Hispanic. But most of these Hispanics don't vote, for multiple reasons. "Hispanics are just much younger (than the rest of the population) and a third of them are too young to vote," says Alexa Ura, who worked on the analysis for the Texas Tribune. "Another thing to consider is how many of our Hispanics are actually (illegal) immigrants, obviously making them ineligible to vote...that lowers their share of the electorate." Indeed, the Tribune analysis estimates that of Texas' 4.7 million immigrants, nearly two thirds are ineligible to vote due to their citizenship status.
Another factor found in the Texas demographics is that the state's voting population is much older and whiter than its overall population. "White Texans outnumber voters of other races in the age groups that consistently turn out to vote," says Ura. But, she tells KTRH that gap is likely to narrow in the years ahead. "These individuals are going to eventually die off, especially those in the 65+ population, and the age groups coming behind them are much more diverse...eventually you'll see that make a difference in terms of our politics and in terms of our elections."