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Why is Texas dead last in voter turnout?

 - Dismal civic participation could dampen 2014 election expectations

When it comes to voting in local, state and national elections, Texans’ boast that “everything is bigger in Texas” is an exercise in self-delusion.

The Annette Straus Institute for Civic Life at UT-Austin earlier this year recently produced the Texas Civic Health Index, the first nonpartisan, statewide evaluation of political and community engagement in Texas.

In a word, the results are alarming. In comparison to the rest of the country, Texas consistently ranks at the bottom in rates of political participation, community involvement and social connectedness – and dead last in voter turnout.

Civic leaders and public policy advocates from across the state and political spectrum will gather at the University of Texas at Austin on Nov. 9 for the institute’s inaugural Conference on Civic Life to put the state’s civic crisis in context and explore methods and tools that can engage and activate voters.

“With 2014 slated to be the biggest non-presidential election year in more than a decade, this is a prime opportunity to move the needle in terms of voter turnout and general participation in the election process,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

“Doing so will require a partnership among community influencers, both institutional and individual, and this conference could be the spark.”

The institute is named for the former mayor of Dallas and is housed at the University of Texas at Austin with funding from major foundations and corporations.

Pre-registration to the conference, with a nominal fee, is required.  Seats are limited to 300 participants.

The fee covers all conference materials, a printed copy of the Texas Civic Health Index report, meals, a one-use parking pass, access to the “Why Bother: Civic Pop-Up Space” hosted by KUT and KLRU Austin, and more.

Questions? Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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