- SEC. 1. Every free male person who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years, and who shall be a citizen of the United States, or who is, at the time of the adoption of this constitution by the Congress of the United States, a citizen of the republic of Texas, and shall have resided in this State one year next preceding an election, and the last six months with the district, county, city, or town in which he offers to vote, (Indians not taxed, Africans, and descendants of Africans, excepted,) shall be deemed a qualified elector; . . . .
- SEC. 2. All free male persons over the age of twenty one years, (Indians not taxed, Africans, and descendants of Africans, excepted,) who shall have resided six months in Texas immediately preceding the acceptance of this constitution by the Congress of the United States, shall be deemed qualified electors.
There was extensive debate over these articles during the state Constitutional Convention in 1845. The original draft of Article III prepared by the committee (reported July 14, 1845) read: “Sec. 1. Every free white male person . . . (Indians not taxed, Africans and descendants of Africans excepted,) shall be deemed a qualified elector.” The inclusion and the legal construction of the word “white” in this article, and other articles governing legislative apportionment, was repeatedly debated on the convention floor (for example on July 21, July 24, and July 25). One of the chief topics under debate was whether the term “white” included or excluded the Mexican population of Texas. Ultimately the majority of the delegates voted to strike out the term “white” entirely. Many of the delegates who argued in favor of striking out the word “white,” held that it ought to be construed to include Texas Mexicans, but given that “free” already excluded slaves, and the list of exceptions already excluded free black and Indian residents, including “white” might introduce unnecessary confusion or opportunities for partisan malfeasance at the polls.