Pathways to the Poll: Listening to Voter Voices
The aim of this project is to understand and reflect on the exercise of casting a vote through the eyes of the various non-elite actors involved in the electoral process in Texas. We will address how Texas’ underdeveloped public transit infrastructures disproportionately impact communities of color and with low socioeconomic status, which might affect the voting behaviors of these communities. Our analysis will also consider the effects of migration flows and stocks at the local level on voting outcomes. The US voting system has been swathed in controversy since November 2020, with the enduring widespread and unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Most election-focused political science fixates on voting data, implicitly constructing the numbers as the only outcome worth studying. The voters and the voting process are thus taken for granted. The project explores the ways in which people think about and ‘do’ voting in Texas in the 2022-24 period: a period in which the electoral system is adjusting to changes in legislation; demographic profile; the pandemic; and the realignment of the Republican Party. Ethnographies aim to capture and analyze the various perspectives of the actors as well as record what actually happens and subject this to critical analysis. The declining public transit infrastructures in Texas tend to have effects on socioeconomic indicators and the overall voting process. These effects tend to be more pronounced in the context of rising environmental concerns, increasing poverty, and deepening racial divides. As the Texas state populations grow, the need for affordable and accessible public transportation will increase in the future. This project will provide an opportunity for examining a multitude of research trajectories around the accessibility of city spaces and the voting process, including influences by class divisions, racial divisions, and further divides between urban and rural spaces. Our study will also consider contextual factors that might influence voting behavior. Usually, immigrants tend to reside in neighborhoods close to ports of entry that face several challenges. Overall, these areas have lower socioeconomic status, a higher concentration of industrial activities, and higher exposure to environmental toxins and air pollution.