Topic: Record Votes-Dallas League of Women Voters
Congress does it, so does Arizona. California, New York, and Florida do it too. What is "it" and why doesn't Texas?
Last week I was privileged to be one of three invited guests to speak at a meeting of the Dallas area League of Women Voters. Our topic for the evening was, "Let the Sun Shine: Record All Votes in the Texas Legislature." Legislators record some votes now, but it is entirely at their discretion. The League of Women Voters and I share the same principles on record voting that the majority of Texas citizens share, "Democratic government depends on the informed and active participation of its citizens and requires that governmental bodies protect the citizen's right to know by making public records accessible." This can only be achieved by requiring Texas legislators to record their votes.
A "record vote" is defined as any vote for which public record is made of the votes cast by individual members. I offered amendments twice to require record votes in previous sessions. Although they were not adopted, I will keep trying. In fact, I will file legislation in any called special sessions and the next regular session requiring that votes taken in the Texas Legislature be recorded.
Some argue that recording votes would be costly. I respond that it is far more costly for citizens in our democracy to be uninformed. Once the votes are recorded, it will be a simple task of posting the votes on the Internet. Arizona posts all votes on their state website the morning after they are taken. There is no reason why the Texas Legislature shouldn't be able to provide the same information for their constituents.
Concerning public support of recording votes; a Scripps Howard Texas Poll, taken at the end of 2003, asked Texans: "Do you agree or disagree that Texas legislators should be required to record their votes?" Eighty-four percent said legislators should be required to record their votes by name. In addition, as many as 80 percent of Texans polled favored a constitutional amendment requiring Texas legislators to record their votes.
Participating in the League of Women Voters' meeting was an excellent reminder of the need to require record votes. I applaud their efforts to keep the spotlight on the issue. The people of Texas have a right to know how their elected officials vote. I urge you to join the League of Women Voters' lead by supporting record votes.
(Senator Carona represents District 16, which includes major portions of central and northeast Dallas County.)