2023 highest odd-year constitutional amendment election turnout in Texas in almost two decades

Texas registered voter turnout at the Nov. 7 constitutional amendment election was 14.4%—the highest since 2005 when it reached 18%. 2023 was six percentage points higher than 2021, which saw a turnout of 8.8%. This amounted to over a million more voters turning out for the election.

Texas voters decided on 14 constitutional amendments on Nov. 7—the most since 2007, which featured 17 measures. All but one to increase the state judge retirement age were approved. The topics of the approved amendments included an increase to the homestead property tax exemption; a right to farm; a wealth tax prohibition; the creation of several state funds for conservation, water, broadband infrastructure, and energy projects; and changes to the state’s teacher retirement system.

Proposition 9, the Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Teacher Retirement System Amendment, received the highest “yes” vote with 83.7%. 

Between 1988 and 2023, the average turnout of registered voters in odd-numbered year elections featuring constitutional amendments was 11.1%—40 percentage points lower than the average turnout at general elections in even-numbered years (51.0%). The lowest turnout for an odd-year election during this period was 5.0% in 2011 when voters decided on 10 constitutional amendments. The highest turnout for an odd-year election was 26.0% in 1991 when voters decided on 13 constitutional amendments.

The Texas State Legislature is one of 16 states that requires a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber—100 votes in the House and 21 votes in the Senate—during one legislative session to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot. 2023 also saw an increased number of amendments passing at least one chamber in Texas. Legislators introduced 297 constitutional amendments, of which 47 passed at least one chamber. This compares to 218 introduced constitutional amendments with 16 passing at least one chamber in 2021 and 216 amendments in 2019 with 19 passing at least one chamber.

In Texas, a total of 295 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2023. Two hundred forty-eight ballot measures were approved, and 34 ballot measures were defeated.