Log in

A Proposition to Ban Propositions


Long lines outside the primary election day polling sites are common here in Texas. Everyone knows what is to blame — those confusing ballot propositions. Voters frequently stated as they left the polls, “That was a lot of reading, and I didn’t understand half of it!” or “I wish someone would have warned me about those propositions!” 

In the March primary, not only did the thirteen propositions slow down the process, but they also generated much confusion. Many voters thought they were constitutional amendments. The truth is, the propositions are nothing more than an opinion poll for the Republican Party, paid for by Texas taxpayers. In other words — it is a waste of your tax dollars.

Throughout the recent legislative session and this past primary season, pundits, lobbyists, and politicians often referred to the Republican Primary proposition results, especially in arguments for school vouchers. They think this “statistic” strengthens their argument. However, these questions are deceptively biased and designed to get a yes vote.

With only around 20% voter turnout and questions designed by the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) to confirm some of their radical views, the results are hardly a positive referendum for anything. Since the early 1990s, every ballot proposition has passed with flying colors, and all but one by a super majority. 

In the world of research, it is extremely rare to obtain such resounding results that are truly representative of the entire population. Yet the Republican Primary propositions? In 2022 all ten of them resulted in 75%-95% of respondents selecting “Yes” and in 2024 all thirteen had at least 70% or higher selecting “Yes”.

For example, take Proposition 9 (school vouchers) from 2022, which had 88% “Yes.” Any expert researcher or professional surveyor would seriously question the accuracy of that high number. It is also unfair to attribute the results to all Republicans. Voter turnout in primaries is typically much lower than the total voter population. This year, statewide turnout was up slightly, and the percentage that answered “Yes” for the question dropped.

The wording and structure of the voucher proposition is flawed. Professional surveyors suggest that to receive the most genuine responses, questions should be asked one-at-a-time. The proposition fails to follow this fundamental rule of questionnaires by asking two questions at once and only allowing for a single “Yes” or “No” response. It stated, “Texas parents and guardians should have the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student.” The inclusion of “and” indicates that this prompt has two parts, yet there is no selection choice that allows for responding “Yes” to the first part and “No” to the second part. Quality questionnaires seek to eliminate any potential bias in their prompts. When words like “should” are exclusively used, a reader may feel as if that is the way they should feel. They may feel obligated or pressured to answer in a certain way. 

An unbiased and more direct way to ask the proposition might have looked like this: “Texas parents should or should not be allowed to choose where their children attend school? Select ‘Should’ or ‘Should Not.’” Then a separate question, “Taxpayer dollars should or should not follow a student to their parents’ school of choice? Select ‘Should’ or ‘Should Not.’”

An alternative biased question could have been, “Do you support providing taxpayer funding of private schools with no accountability.” Same subject (vouchers) but likely an entirely opposite result.

The current Republican party leadership is deceptive, crafty, and knows how to effectively weaponize shoddy research against legislators who refuse to do the bidding of a few billionaires. In truth, that is all that the propositions are, tools to be used against independent thinkers in the Texas House that actually represent their districts. 

Voucher advocates from Corey DeAngelis (lobbyist for Betsy Devos) to Governor Greg Abbott have constantly used the misleading ballot proposition pseudo data from 2022 in their argument for an expensive voucher entitlement program that would raise taxes and defund public schools.

Perhaps the Texas GOP should start paying for their own surveys, or better yet, this voter harassment should be outlawed. Texas needs to stop wasting taxpayer dollars for political manipulation. 

So, here is my proposition, as the Texas GOP would write it: “The State of Texas should stop the wasteful spending of your tax dollars on political opinion polls that create long wait lines at polling sites and only serve to bolster the views of the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.”

Glenn Rogers represents Texas House District 60 in the Texas Legislature. His term ends in January.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here