Every Texas election is significant. However, there is a folk legend that November general elections are more important than March primaries. Regretfully, voter turnout in Texas in the primaries is lower than the national average. With more than 28 million residents, fewer than four million registered voters showed up for the last midterm primary election in Texas. That means that about 7 percent of all Texans chose our state’s leaders for the other 93 percent — a discouraging fact for a state that was strengthened by the engagement of its citizens and dedicated effort to create pro-business policies.
These figures represent the lack of candidate education among Texans, but also the myth that a Texan’s vote does not make an impact. In many primary elections, particularly in rural areas, the outcome can be decided by a difference of a couple hundred votes. Because of this, it is crucial that employers become engaged in the public policy issues facing our state. Standing idly by and removed from important legislative decisions is no longer an option if we want to keep our state’s business climate strong.
Voters cannot wait until the runoffs or November if we want a say in how Texas and our communities are run. The most important message to drive home among Texans is that in most races, political maps are drawn so that the primaries determine who will win in November. Texans do not need to register with a party to vote in the primaries; they simply need to show up.
It is the duty of Texas employers to give their employees all the assets they need to vote. Employees need to be educated on the issues that will impact them, who their elected officials are and where they can find additional resources and candidate information. When employers empower employees to vote, the Texas business environment thrives.
There are easy steps for employers to take to begin motivating their employees:
- Provide time off so that employees feel free to vote when it is convenient for them
- Send email updates, post flyers and hold learning luncheons to educate them on the voting process and issues
- Create a fun competition for the highest voter participation rate
The March Primary Election Day is upon us and the resounding consensus is that Texans need to show up and vote during the primaries. Get-out-the-vote efforts have sprung up from various groups to engage employers and their employees: March Matters; TXBIZ Votes; The North Texas Advocacy Coalition. All these efforts were created to ensure a more business-friendly climate in Austin.
Businesses need to play an active role in voting if we expect to grow our private-sector success. The 2019 session will face serious challenges. Texans need to take a lesson from the lost opportunity of last year’s legislative session and focus on the challenges facing our state and solutions to benefits the lives of our residents.
We have until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6. Let’s unite as business leaders and do what’s best for the state.
The Texas Association of Business, the North Texas Commission and James Spaniolo have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.