Large population diminishes voting power in Texas

A week after the 2018 midterm elections, Texans have had the opportunity to dissect and come to terms with a highly competitive midterm election.

But a new study by Wallethub indicates the vote in Texas may not be as powerful as other states, specifically those states with smaller populations.

The study concludes that states with larger populations have difficulty finding representatives that can properly represent a majority of its people, something most prevalent in larger state elections.

“What it means for Texas, in particular, is that its votes are weakened because each of its senators must represent more citizens,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at Wallethub. “We established the influence of a vote by calculating the number of elected officials per total adult population.”

Texas’ cultural diversity from the Rio Grande Valley to the Panhandle poses a challenge for senators and representatives alike, especially with Texans who are financially, culturally and ideologically different from their fellow Texans.

Based on Wallethub’s analysis, Texas’ two senators’ ability to represent the people of Texas remains difficult. Texas has 36 representatives in the United States House of Representatives. These representatives can more efficiently represent the citizenry of a given district.

According to the study, Texas has the 15th most powerful voters for House elections, and that trend continues the smaller the represented populations get.

Wallethub’s analysis is a case study into population metrics, concluding that smaller populations of people garner more vocal dissent or approval to their representatives’ actions.

For example, Wyoming is the state where voters in local, state and federal representatives have a better voice. Wyoming has two senators and only one representative in the United States House, giving voters a larger seat at the table.

Lon Shell, Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner, said representing a smaller population is a rewarding process, as input from the community makes a greater impact in his precinct.

“It’s more personal at this level and with that comes a higher level of accountability,” Shell said. “We all live in the same community at the end of the day. Our kids go to the same school, we see each other at church. You can make a difference and you can see it.”

Shell said representation at a local level does prove to be difficult, recalling his decisions on the commissioners court under the watchful eye of the citizenry.

“This is definitely all I want to do and it’s because Hays County is my home,” Shell said. “I take it very seriously for those personal reasons and I’ll try to do the best with it as long as I can. But there will be a day where someone else will do it. There will be a day when I am no longer the best choice for this county, inevitably.”

Locally, Shell said it’s easier to connect with school board members, council members, commissioners and state representatives in order to lobby for change in a community. Statewide, connecting on a personal level with a United States Senator or House Representative can be difficult.

“The purpose of this report was to identify the states with the most and least influential voters,” Gonzalez said. “It only makes sense that larger states have smaller ratios. However, Texans should not feel discouraged and should still be aware of the fact that each vote counts in electing the best representatives in government.”

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