Focus Friday: Houston election’s important measures, voter turnout
For this week’s Focus Friday, we tackle Houston’s election that happened this week.
What issue on the ballot was most important to you?
Assistant Opinion Editor Sarah Kim: For me, the most important items on the ballot were the mayoral candidates. Frankly, if we have a great mayor, it does not matter as much which measures pass. As one of the largest cities in the nation, we need to continue bringing jobs into the city. As for the other measures, a mayor can work with other public officials to bring the changes the city needs socially. I also think Proposition 1 was important just because it’s telling about shifting voter attitudes.
Opinion Editor Anthony Torres: The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was easily the most important issue on the ballot, but a few measures were overlooked. We also got a chance to vote on new term limits for Houston mayor, and now we have two four-year terms instead of three two-year terms. So now, the next mayor will serve longer. The measure I was concerned about was Proposition 6, which made hunting and fishing a constitutional right. Why do we need hunting protected under the constitution? I feel that was a bit ridiculous.
Opinion columnist Franco Rosales: The issue most important to me on the ballot was HERO. There were many fear tactics and PR campaigns against this bill that were completely bogus, such as the “Say NO to Men in Women’s Restrooms” and the “Bathroom Bill” slogans. People should know that HERO prohibited discrimination in workplaces, housing and public accommodations, in places such as bathrooms, on the basis of 15 different characteristics, including race, age and sexual orientation. This was a move to further progress of equality in Houston, not to endanger its people.
What could be done to increase voter turnout?
SK: The main reason people do not vote is that it we are using an antiquated system in a modern world. Business, medicine and technology – even campaigning practices have grown and innovated to meet the needs of our society. The fact is, people will not go out to vote, unless it is convenient for them. It’s sad that in other parts of the world, people die trying to find equality and get a vote, but we take it for granted. But, this is not going to change. I believe there needs to be an expedited, more convenient way to vote.
AT: Seeing as 27 percent of those registered voted in this election — and that’s considered a high amount — we still have a long way to go. Solutions like mandatory voting are out there, but forcing people to vote is just not practical. I think the solution to getting more people to vote are with investing in digital voting. I know that sounds crazy, but we do things like online banking and things with our social security information all the time online, and I feel investing in a more practical way of voting would help in the long run.
FR: By keeping ourselves informed, spreading the knowledge and inspiring our fellow man and woman to vote, voter turnout in Houston could rise dramatically. Many do not realize the importance of voting because they presume their vote won’t count. This is because of a general belief that in the end, the electoral votes are what matters, not the people. However, people should know that in local elections, their vote does count, and it does matter. If they tell a friend, and their friend tells a friend, the votes will add up. You can make a difference.