If we want to increase turnout, lets make the races more competitive.
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The presidential race is a big deal, generating plenty of talk. The debates are coming. The ads are coming. The race is on every screen in sight. Polls are everywhere, like candy pouring out of a piñata. Some, like the recent Washington Post/Survey Monkey survey that found Clinton and Trump in a virtual tie, suggest a close race in Texas.
Even if that’s not what happens — and it’s highly unlikely to happen — it’s fun to talk about.
But the rest of the ballot is sort of a snoozer. That flippant assessment comes with a built-in scold: These offices, from Congress to the courts, from regulatory commissions to the Legislature, are important and deserve your attention. Be an adult about it.
But many of them are completely noncompetitive. The candidates and campaigns, as usual, are out-shouted by the national race. But it’s hard to get voters ginned up about the Texas Railroad Commission or the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals. It’s even harder to elicit the interest of normal humans in races that didn’t even interest candidates from the political minority.
In 10 of the races for 36 U.S. House seats from Texas, only one major party entered a candidate. Unless the minor parties — the Greens and the Libertarians — do something historic, those contests are over.
It’s the same down the ballot. Ten of the 16 state Senate seats on the ballot feature only one major-party contestant. The same is true of 97 of the 150 Texas House seats on the ballot.
Whether that brings cheers or lamentations, this is a safe assessment: It’s not the kind of development that generates conversation and excitement leading into an election.