HistoryThe Constitution of the Republic of Texas (1836) - GENERAL PROVISIONS
SEC. 6. All free white persons who shall emigrate to this Republic, and who shall, after a residence of six months, make oath before some competent authority that he intends to reside permanently in the same, and shall swear to support this Constitution, and that he will bear true allegiance to the Republic of Texas, shall be entitled to all the privileges of citizenship.
SEC. 9 (...) No free person of African descent, either in whole or in part, shall be permitted to reside permanently in the Republic, without the consent of Congress, and the importation or admission of Africans or negroes into this Republic, excepting from the United States of America, is forever prohibited, and declared to be piracy.
SEC. 10. All persons, (Africans, the descendants of Africans, and Indians excepted,) who were residing in Texas on the day of the Declaration of Independence, shall be considered citizens of the Republic, and entitled to all the privileges of such.Constitution of the State of Texas (1869)
Article 6 Right of Suffrage - SECTION I. Every male citizen of the United States, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, not laboring under the disabilities named in this Constitution, without distinction of race, color or former condition, who shall be a resident of this State at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, or who shall thereafter reside in this State one year, and in the county in which he offers to vote sixty days next preceding any election, shall be entitled to vote for all officers that are now, or hereafter may be elected by the people, and upon all questions submitted to the electors at any election; provided, that no person shall be allowed to vote, or hold office, who is now, or hereafter may be disqualified therefor, by the Constitution of the United States, until such disqualification shall be removed by the Congress of the United States; provided, further, that no person, while kept in any asylum, or confined in prison, or who has been convicted of a felony, or who is of unsound mind, shall be allowed to vote or hold office.Constitution of the State of Texas (1876)
Article II. Suffrage - SEC. 2. Every male person subject to none of the foregoing disqualifications, who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years, and who shall be a citizen of the United States, and who shall have resided in this State one year next preceding an election, and the last six months within the district or county in which he offers to vote, shall be deemed a qualified elector; and every male person of foreign birth, subject to none of the foregoing disqualifications, who, at any time before an election, shall have declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, in accordance with the federal naturalization laws, and shall have resided in this State one year next preceding such election, and the last six months in the county in which he offers to vote, shall also be deemed a qualified elector; and all electors shall vote in the election precinct of their residence; provided, that electors living in any unorganized county, may vote at any election precinct in the county to which such county is attached, for judicial purposes.
(...) Under Texas law a male alien could vote by declaring his intent to become a citizen. In border counties Mexicans were brought in by the hundreds from Mexico and taken to the county clerk, to whom they declared intent to become United States citizens; they then proceeded to vote. Citizens of Mexico voted in Texas elections until 1927. (...)
Cynthia E. Orozco, Reds and Blues, The Handbook of Texas online
(...) In 1921 the Texas constitution was amended to provide for woman suffrage, but it also required United States citizenship as a voter qualification, thus disqualifying aliens, who had been permitted to vote since 1869. (...)
Janice C. May, Government, The Handbook of Texas online
In Re Ricardo Rodríguez, a landmark civil-rights case, began when Ricardo Rodríguez, a Mexican of humble means who had resided in San Antonio for 10 years, came before the federal district court of Judge Thomas S. Maxey in May 1896 to request final approval of his application for United States citizenship, which would naturally confer on him the right to vote. His action initiated legal maneuvers to disfranchise all Texas Mexicans. This situation lasted almost a year until Judge Maxey delivered his ruling on May 3, 1897, in favor of Rodríguez, thereby legally affirming the civil rights of Texas Mexicans to vote. The Rodríguez citizenship case was the culmination of a series of calls for disfranchisement of Hispanics that had appeared regularly after the Texas Revolution in 1836. The Rodríguez case finally brought the status of Tejano voting rights into the courts for settlement. Rodríguez's request for citizenship focused attention on the fact that most Tejanos were born in Mexico and could not vote unless they had applied for naturalization. San Antonio politician T. J. McMinn had already raised the issue of Texas Mexicans' right to vote during previous elections before he stepped into the controversy surrounding Rodríguez's fight for citizenship. In this battle he was joined by another local politician, Jack Evans, in opposing Rodríguez. At the center of the debate on Rodríguez's right to citizenship was the suggestion made by McMinn and Evans that under the law he did not qualify for citizenship since he was not "a white person, nor an African, nor of African descent, and is therefore not capable of becoming an American citizen." Indeed, an 1872 federal statute specified that only Caucasians and Africans could become citizens, but at the same time did not specifically deny Mexicans that right.
In his testimony before the court, Ricardo Rodríguez acknowledged that his interest in becoming a citizen lay in his long residency in Texas. He claimed that he considered his cultural heritage to be "pure-blooded Mexican" but that he was a descendant neither of any of the aboriginal peoples of Mexico, nor of the Spaniards, nor of Africans. He also swore that he was not acquainted with the form of government in the United States. These latter two issues were critical, since they raised the questions of racial and educational qualifications for achieving citizenship. The testimony of James Fisk, a character witness for Rodríguez, proved to be another important influence on the judge's decision. Fisk told the court that on the basis of his ten-year acquaintanceship with Rodríguez, he could attest that Rodríguez was "a good man, of sound moral character, a hard worker, a peaceful law abiding citizen," whose "ignorance of the Constitution notwithstanding, would dutifully uphold its principles if he knew them." Interest in the case was high throughout the city and among Texas Hispanics elsewhere. In an effort to rally support for the protection of their rights to vote, a group of 200 men of Mexican descent met to condemn the "effort being made in Federal Court to prevent Mexicans from becoming by naturalization voting citizens of the United States." They also linked the Populists and Republicans to this latest tactic to disfranchise Texas Mexicans. They suspected these two parties since McMinn and Evans were members of the Populist and Republican parties, respectively. Tejanos especially feared McMinn because his possible ascendancy to the Texas Supreme Court would bode ill for their civil rights. Maxey's decision prevented further attempts to use the courts to deprive Texas Mexicans of voting rights.
In asserting that Rodríguez had the right to become a citizen of the United States, Maxey stated that since 1836 both "the Republic of Texas and the United States had by various collective acts of naturalization conferred upon Mexicans the rights and privileges of American citizenship." He pointed out that the Constitution of the Republic of Texas granted citizenship to Mexicans living in the republic on Independence Day, and that congressional resolutions in 1845 had further extended citizenship to Mexicans after annexation. In addition, he recalled that Article VIII of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo allowed for the conferral of American citizenship on Mexicans who continued to live in the territory ceded after the Mexican War if they failed to declare their desire to become Mexican citizens. Turning to the relationship between race and citizenship, Judge Maxey declared that the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of color or race. Moreover, he noted, "We have freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with rights of citizens." He added, "The conclusion forces itself upon the mind that citizens of Mexico are eligible to American citizenship, and may be individually naturalized by complying with the provisions of our laws." In rendering his final decision, Maxey affirmed that neither race nor educational attainment were legal determinants in acquiring citizenship. See also MEXICAN AMERICANS, CIVIL-RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Arnoldo De León, In Re Ricardo Rodríguez: An Attempt at Chicano Disenfranchisement in San Antonio, 1896-1897 (San Antonio: Caravel Press, 1979). Arnoldo De León, The Tejano Community, 1836-1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982). Fernando Padilla, "Early Chicano Legal Recognition: 1846-1897," Journal of Popular Culture 13 (Spring 1980).
Teresa Palomo Acosta, In re Ricardo Rodríguez, The Handbook of Texas online
(...) Early in 1919, in response to another effort to amend the Texas Constitution to provide full voting rights for women, the antisuffrage organization distributed more than 100,000 pieces of literature against this measure, warning voters that women did not want to vote, that woman suffrage would destroy homes, and that socialism and domination by the black race would be the direct result if this measure was approved. In this battle the Texas Equal Suffrage Association faced not only the strong campaign of the antisuffrage association, but also the awkward situation of asking voters to approve a measure that called for the enfranchisement of women and the disenfranchisement of aliens. When the measure was defeated by 25,000 votes in May 1919, suffrage leaders argued that the alien vote-not the antisuffrage organization-was directly responsible. Voting results did not necessarily confirm this claim, however, and the suffragists had taken Mrs. Wells and her group seriously enough to attempt to respond to them in this round of the suffrage battle. Thus, the antisuffragists considered this defeat of the state amendment an important victory. (...)
Debbie Mauldin Cottrell Texas association opposed to woman suffrage, The Handbook of Texas online
(...) When the legislature convened in January 1919 Governor Hobby sent a message recommending that the Texas Constitution be amended to extend full suffrage to women. He also recommended that persons of foreign birth be allowed to vote only after they had acquired full citizenship through naturalization. If adopted, this citizenship requirement would take the vote from "first paper" aliens, who were at that time fully enfranchised. Without a dissenting vote, both houses passed a resolution embodying the governor's recommendations. Before becoming part of the Texas Constitution, however, the resolution had to be approved by the voters at the polls. The enfranchisement of women and the disenfranchisement of aliens were both parts of the same resolution. The two proposals could not be voted upon separately but had to be accepted or rejected as a unit. Under existing law women could not vote in the referendum on the proposed amendment since they had only primary suffrage. Aliens could vote on it, however, because they were already fully enfranchised. Under the direction of Jane Y. McCallum of Austin the suffragists conducted a vigorous campaign. When the referendum was held on May 24, however, the proposed amendment was defeated by a majority of 25,000 votes. The antisuffragists hailed this defeat as a mandate against votes for women. The suffragists emphatically denied this claim. They maintained that the issue had been clouded by the inclusion of the citizenship requirement and published an analysis of the returns showing that counties with large alien populations cast large majorities against the proposed amendment. The following month, June 1919, the federal woman suffrage amendment was submitted to the states. The Texas legislature convened in special session on June 23. The following day the House adopted a resolution ratifying the federal amendment by a vote of ninety-six to twenty-one. In spite of some opposition, the Senate approved it on June 28. Texas was then hailed as the ninth state in the Union to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. The Nineteenth Amendment encountered its strongest opposition in the South. It was opposed as a threat to states' rights and to state control of elections, partly because of the fear that the black woman's vote might increase the political influence of blacks. These states' rights and racial objections were raised in Texas, but they were of less concern there than in other parts of the South. Of the eleven states in the former Confederacy, only three ratified the Nineteenth Amendment during the 1919-20 campaign. Texas, the first of the three, yielded to the demands of the suffragists only after the movement seemed assured of success nationally. (...)
A. Elizabeth Taylor, Women suffrage, The Handbook of Texas online
(...) Politically, the Chinese have similarly kept to themselves. Until the end of exclusion, they were classified as aliens ineligible for citizenship and thus, except for the few who had been born in the United States, were denied the right to vote. In 1937 they successfully lobbied against an amendment to the Texas alien land law that would have driven the Chinese groceries out of business. They were not, however, otherwise active in Texas politics. They preferred to involve themselves instead in the politics of their native land. They contributed generously to China's struggle against Japanese aggression in the 1930s and early 1940s, when branches of the Chinese Nationalist party, or Kuomintang, were established in San Antonio and El Paso. Since the repeal of the exclusion act in 1943 and the triumph of the Communists in China in 1949, however, their ties to China have loosened considerably. In 1964 Tom. J. Lee of San Antonio became the first Chinese Texan to be elected to the state House of Representatives. More recently, others have been elected to local office in Houston. (...)
Edward J. M. Rhoads , Chinese, The Handbook of Texas online
Representative Roberto ALONZO (Democratic Party, 104th District, parts of Dallas).
http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/74R/billtext/html/HJ00110I.HTMBy Alonzo H.J.R. No. 110
A JOINT RESOLUTION
1-1 proposing a constitutional amendment providing by local option for
1-2 a lawfully admitted resident alien to vote in an election held by a
1-3 political subdivision.
1-4 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
1-5 SECTION 1. Article VI, Texas Constitution, is amended by
1-6 adding Section 6 to read as follows:
1-7 Sec. 6. The legislature may provide by local option for the
1-8 eligibility to vote in an election of a political subdivision of
1-9 this state of a person who is otherwise qualified to vote under
1-10 this article except that the person is not a United States citizen
1-11 if the person is lawfully admitted for permanent residence under
1-12 federal law.
1-13 SECTION 2. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be
1-14 submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 7, 1995.
1-15 The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the
1-16 proposition: "The constitutional amendment to allow the
1-17 legislature to provide by local option for voting by a lawfully
1-18 admitted resident alien in an election held by a political
1-19 subdivision of this state."
|Legislative Session: 74(R)||Council Document: 74R 5725 DRH-D||
|Last Action:||05/02/1995 H Left pending in committee|
|Caption Text:||Relating to allowing a political subdivision to hold a local option election on whether a lawfully admitted resident alien may vote in an election held by the political subdivision.|
Elections--Registration & Suffrage (I0265)
Elections--School District (I0283)
|Remarks:||Enabling legislation for HJR 110.|
|House Committee:||State Affairs|
|Actions: (descending date order)|
|H||Left pending in committee||05/02/1995|
|H||Testimony taken in committee||05/02/1995|
|H||Considered in public hearing||05/02/1995|
|H||Left pending in committee||05/01/1995|
|H||Testimony taken in committee||05/01/1995|
|H||Considered in public hearing||05/01/1995|
|H||Scheduled for public hearing on . . . .||05/01/1995|
|H||Referred to State Affairs||03/15/1995||728|
|H||Read first time||03/15/1995||728|
By Alonzo H.B. No. 2816
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
relating to allowing a political subdivision to hold a local option election on whether a lawfully admitted resident alien may vote in an election held by the political subdivision.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Title 2, Election Code, is amended by adding Chapter 20 to read as follows:
CHAPTER 20. VOTING BY RESIDENT ALIEN
Sec. 20.001. LOCAL OPTION ELECTION. (a) The governing body of a political subdivision may order an election in the political subdivision on the question of whether a person who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by 8 U.S.C. Section 1101, may vote in an election held by the political subdivision.
(b) At the election, the ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "Voting by a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States in an election held by (name of political subdivision)."
(c) If a majority of the votes received in the election approve the proposition:
(1) a person who meets the qualifications to vote under Section 11.002 except that the person is not a United States citizen is qualified to vote in an election held by the political subdivision if the person is lawfully admitted for permanent residence; and
(2) a person who is eligible to register to vote under Section 13.001 except that the person is not a United States citizen is eligible to register to vote in an election held by the political subdivision if the person is lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
Sec. 20.002. FORMS AND PROCEDURE. (a) The secretary of state shall prescribe the design and content of a:
(1) form to apply for registration to vote by a person who is qualified to vote under this chapter; and
(2) limited use voter registration certificate for a person who has registered to vote under this chapter.
(b) The procedure for the administration of a limited use voter registration certificate issued under this chapter is the same as the procedure for the administration of a voter registration certificate under this title.
(c) The secretary of state shall adopt rules for the verification of a person's status at the time a person applies to register to vote under this chapter.
SECTION 2. This Act takes effect January 1, 1996, but only if the constitutional amendment proposed by the 74th Legislature, Regular Session, 1995, relating to permitting a lawfully admitted resident alien to vote in an election held by a political subdivision is approved by the voters.
SECTION 3. The importance of this legislation and the crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.
Bill: HB 2816
|Legislative Session: 74(R)||
|INTRODUCED 05/02/1995 H Left
pending in committee
Relating to allowing a political subdivision to hold a local option election on whether a lawfully admitted resident alien may vote in an election held by the political subdivision.
I0265 Elections--Registration & Suffrage
I0283 Elections--School District
|Remarks:||Enabling legislation for HJR 110.|
|House Committee:||State Affairs|
Aliens voting rights in the U.S.A.