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Home | Tag Archives: early voting in texas

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Presidential candidates turn their focus to Texas, as early voting begins

Bernie Sanders wasted little time Friday night at a Dallas-area rally getting to what he said would be a “dramatic announcement.”

“We’re gonna win the state of Texas,” he declared, setting off raucous cheers.

“Yeah, we will,” he added nonchalantly seconds later.

While none of Sanders’ primary rivals has exuded as much confidence ahead of the March 3 primary, several others clearly see opportunity in the delegate-rich state — and are acting accordingly as early voting begins Tuesday. Still, the primary here remains somewhat in flux as campaigns gauge just how seriously to make a homestretch push in the massive, resource-intensive state, one of over a dozen that vote on Super Tuesday. To top it all off, early voting begins in Texas before Nevada or South Carolina even vote, meaning the state of the overall primary could be dramatically different by election day in Texas.

“I think a lot of this is going to have to do with momentum,” said one of the candidates, California billionaire Tom Steyer, who predicted he would come out of Nevada and South Carolina “with a lot of momentum” and with a “diverse coalition” that will position him well for a state like Texas.

“The state of the presidential race in Texas is fluid,” added state Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Carrollton, who sees her candidate, Michael Bloomberg, on more of an upswing in the state than anybody else as he builds an unparalleled operation here.

The latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll of the state’s primary, released Friday, found Sanders and Joe Biden statistically tied after months of Biden leading most surveys here. Bloomberg was fourth, with 10%, behind Elizabeth Warren, at 15%.

There are 261 delegates up for grabs in Texas, allocated based on the results of the statewide vote and in 31 state Senate districts. The bluer the district, the more delegates at play — as many as 10, which is how many are available in Sen. Kirk Watson’s Austin-based district. A candidate must clear 15% of the vote in a district to be eligible for its delegates, and the same threshold applies to the statewide delegates.

Texas appears increasingly important for the former vice president, whose campaign is eager to show he can break through in more diverse states after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“They remain bullish about Texas, I remain bullish about Texas,” said Biden supporter Mike Collier, the 2018 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Collier added that he thought there was “no surprise” in the first two states and that it was natural for the Texas polls to tighten as the campaign heats up.

Biden has staff on the ground in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, according to his campaign, and it has offices in those first three cities. Biden also has the most impressive endorsement list in the state, to which he is adding state Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins on Tuesday. In a statement first shared with The Texas Tribune, the San Antonio lawmaker said Biden “has always fought for us — and as President, I know he will continue the fight to ensure that all Texans have the same economic and educational opportunities regardless of race, gender, or ZIP code.”

Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont, has moved briskly in recent weeks to beef up his Texas presence after winning the popular vote in Iowa and prevailing in New Hampshire. He now has five offices and 10 staffers in Texas, and his campaign is on TV as part of a $5.5 million ad buy across the Super Tuesday states. That makes him the only Democratic candidate other than Bloomberg who has been airing TV ads in Texas.

Undoubtedly looming large is the former New York City mayor, who is skipping the first four states on the nominating calendar and effectively beginning his campaign in the Super Tuesday states. While saturating Texas with eight figures worth of spending in TV ads, he has built easily the biggest campaign here, opening 17 offices — with two more on the way — and amassing a 160-person staff.

Also, Bloomberg himself has been to Texas five times since launching his campaign in late November, easily more than any other candidate over the same period.

Bloomberg’s priority focus on Texas has won over several important endorsers, including Johnson. She said Bloomberg’s commitment to keeping his Texas infrastructure in place through the general election “was significant to me,” calling his effort in the state “not just a three-week splash and out.”

Asked about another candidate who has vowed to help put Texas in play as the nominee, Johnson said, “Bloomberg’s actually doing it and Biden’s just talking about it.”

Long before Bloomberg swept into the state, though, at least one candidate made Texas an early priority: Elizabeth Warren. The U.S. senator from Massachusetts has had people on the ground since August, and her campaign says it has dozens of staffers and organizers across 14 cities. It has four offices open.

While Warren herself has not visited Texas since September, her campaign sent surrogates on a five-city “Latino community engagement tour” that wrapped up Saturday.

“I see a lot of enthusiasm for Sen. Warren,” said Julián Castro, the former U.S. housing secretary and San Antonio mayor who ended his own presidential run last month and quickly endorsed Warren. “Her campaign has been organizing for several months in Texas. They’re not taking any vote for granted in Texas and also reaching out to the Latino community, to the black community, so her campaign is putting in the work here in Texas to have a good showing, and I’m confident that she can do well on March 3.”

Then there are some candidates who are truly playing catch-up in the state, making their first serious moves here in recent days. Steyer opened his first Texas office Thursday in Houston and is planning to open a Dallas office later this week. Pete Buttigieg sent 24 staffers to Texas starting Monday, following his top-two finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. And the campaign of Amy Klobuchar, who is scrambling to scale up after beating expectations with a third-place finish in the Granite State, announced Sunday that her campaign “will have … staff on the ground in every Super Tuesday state,” but did not provide further details.

Over the weekend, Klobuchar won the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle, the newspaper in the state’s biggest city.

In an interview, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa acknowledged that candidates like Klobuchar could do well in Texas given the momentum they are building elsewhere, but he voiced skepticism of any campaign that is just now investing in the huge state.

“Unless you are willing to spend $30 million flooding the airwaves, it’s very, very difficult to have an additional impact than what you’ve already got,” Hinojosa said. “You cannot organize and you cannot put together a machine to pull out the vote for a candidate in a week or a month even.”

When it comes to endorsements, Biden has long led the way in Texas, accruing the support of dozens of members of Congress, state lawmakers and major county and city officials, with support particularly concentrated in South Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But Warren has also been able to put together a respectable endorsement list, and Bloomberg has been making considerable inroads, landing his biggest Texas nod yet last week, when he got the support of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Both Texans who had run for president earlier this cycle — Castro and Beto O’Rourke — are playing distinctly different roles as the primary nears. Castro has endorsed Warren and emerged as a highly active surrogate for her. O’Rourke, the former El Paso congressman, has said he does not plan to endorse before the primary, which a spokesperson reiterated Friday. (He has, however, been himself available to candidates seeking advice about Texas and he showed up at a Bloomberg event late last month in El Paso.)

Like many Democrats nationwide, Texas Democrats are highly focused on who can beat President Donald Trump. But in a traditionally Republican state that is getting more competitive, state Democrats are also looking for a nominee who can lead a robust down-ballot effort in November — or be a “party builder,” as Collier said in promoting Biden.

Before Bloomberg came along, Biden was making the most overt appeals to Texas Democrats’ general-election hopes. And along with Warren, Biden and Bloomberg sought to prove their down-ballot commitment by weighing in last month on a nationally targeted special election runoff for a Texas House seat that Democrats were hoping to flip. The Democrats’ efforts fell well short — Republican Gary Gates won by 16 percentage points.

Sanders and Warren have taken their down-ballot involvement a step further, looking to burnish their progressive credentials by endorsing a few prominent primary challengers across the state. Those include Jessica Cisneros, who is running against U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and José Garza, who is taking on Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore.

Now, with two weeks until election day, the candidates are getting more opportunities to take their long-building Texas courtship directly to the voters.

On Saturday, Sanders and Steyer participated via video conference in a forum in Pasadena put on by Jolt, a group focused on mobilizing Latino youth. Biden, Klobuchar and Warren sent surrogates.

A few days earlier at the Harris County party’s annual Johnson, Rayburn, Richards Dinner in Houston, some of the central tension of the primary was on full display. Bloomberg was the first headliner to speak, and he was interrupted twice by hecklers, including at least one objecting to the stop-and-frisk policy that Bloomberg pushed as mayor but apologized for days prior to announcing his White House bid. Bloomberg then headed to another event in Houston — the launch of “Mike for Black America” — where he and Turner used their remarks to address the recent uproar over stop and frisk.

Meanwhile, back at the dinner, another headliner, Castro, took the stage and made a passionate pitch for Warren — and while he did not directly mention Bloomberg, there was little doubt he had the billionaire on his mind. In his speech, Castro acknowledged that Democrats’ number one priority is defeating Trump, but he sought to remind primary voters that they have choices for who will best represent their values in the general election.

“Having said that,” Castro said after a pause, “I also want to commend the folks that spoke up about stop and frisk earlier tonight.”

Author: PATRICK SVITEKThe Texas Tribune

Early Voting Starts Today: Here’s What Texas Voters Should Know

On Nov. 6, Texas voters will decide who will hold several statewide, legislative and congressional seats.

To help Texans navigate Election Day, we’ve compiled an overview of everything you need to know about casting a ballot in the 2018 midterms. (And no, you still can’t take a selfie at the polls.)

Whom do I get to vote for?

Your representatives

Aside from statewide races decided by all Texans, who you get to vote for depends on where you live. On the federal level, Texans are divided among 36 U.S. House districts. On the state level, your address determines your district — and who represents you — in the Texas House, the Texas Senate and on the State Board of Education. All U.S. House and Texas House districts are up for election this year, but only half of Texas Senate and State Board of Education seats are on the ballot.

If you share your address above, we can show you the 2018 general election candidates for each of your districts. Otherwise, you can view our roundup of all the candidates here.

Your statewide candidates

Fourteen of the races on all Texans’ general election ballots this year will be for statewide positions. This includes the race to decide who — in addition to John Cornyn — will represent the state in the U.S. Senate. Seven statewide races include executive positions such as governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, and six are for the state’s two highest courts — the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals.

U.S. Senate

D Beto O’Rourke
L Neal Dikeman
R Ted Cruz Incumbent


D Lupe Valdez
L Mark Tippetts
R Greg Abbott Incumbent

Lieutenant Governor

D Mike Collier
L Kerry McKennon
R Dan Patrick Incumbent

Attorney General

D Justin Nelson
L Michael Ray Harris
R Ken Paxton Incumbent


D Joi Chevalier
L Ben Sanders
R Glenn Hegar Incumbent

Land Commissioner

D Miguel Suazo
L Matt Piña
R George P. Bush Incumbent

Agriculture Commissioner

D Kim Olson
L Richard Carpenter
R Sid Miller Incumbent

Railroad Commissioner

D Roman McAllen
L Mike Wright
R Christi Craddick Incumbent

Texas Supreme Court, Place 2

D Steven Kirkland
R Jimmy Blacklock Incumbent

Texas Supreme Court, Place 4

D R.K. Sandill
R John Devine Incumbent

Texas Supreme Court, Place 6

D Kathy Cheng
R Jeff Brown Incumbent

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 1

D Maria T. (Terri) Jackson
L William Bryan Strange III
R Sharon Keller Incumbent

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 7

D Ramona Franklin
R Barbara Parker Hervey Incumbent

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 8

L Mark Ash
R Michelle Slaughter

Your local candidates

You might have noticed that we’ve not said anything about elections for local positions such as sheriff. Because local elections are administered at the county level, there’s no statewide listing of all local races. The Texas secretary of state’s office maintains a list of county websites you can reference to learn more about what is on the ballot locally. Your local newspapers or TV stations might also have candidate listings.

What dates do I need to know?

The last day to register to vote was 

Is there a way to confirm whether I’m registered to vote?

Yes, there is! You can check your registration status on the Texas secretary of state’s website by using one of these three ways to log on:

  • Providing your Texas driver’s license number and date of birth
  • Providing your first and last name and what county you reside in
  • Providing your date of birth and Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate.

How can I register to vote?

Texans can fill out an application in person at their county voter registrar’s office. Most post offices, libraries and high schools also provide the necessary applications needed to cast a ballot. Texans can also print out the application online or request it through the mail.

However, keep in mind that registering online is not an option in Texas. Mailed applications must be postmarked on or before the Oct. 9 deadline.

The last day to apply for ballot by mail is 

How do I know if I’m eligible to vote by mail?

You are only allowed to vote by mail for one of the following four reasons:

  • You will not be in your county on Nov. 6 (Election Day) and not in your county during the entire span of early voting
  • You are sick or disabled
  • You will be 65 years old or older by Election Day
  • You are confined in jail but otherwise eligible (i.e., not convicted of a felony).

Eligible Texans who want to vote by mail have two options: They can mail in their ballot — postmarked by Election Day and received by 5 p.m. the day after the election — or they can give their ballot directly to an early voting clerk.

Early voting runs from  through (Begins today!)

Where am I allowed to vote early?

You can find early voting locations at the same website that allows you to check whether you are registered to vote. Unlike on Election Day, you are allowed to vote early at any polling location in the countyyou are registered to vote in.

Who is eligible to vote early?

Anyone who is registered to vote may vote early. However, you must do so in person. Only certain voters can mail in their ballots.

Election Day is 

Are polling locations the same on Election Day as they are during early voting?

No, they are not. That’s why it’s important to find your polling locations ahead of time. While a few counties might have exceptions, you may be allowed to vote only in your designated precinct.

What do I need to know about going to vote?

Where can I cast my ballot, and how can I find which polling places are near me?

Using the same website that allows you to check whether you’re registered, you can also find polling location options on Election Day and during the early voting period. During the early voting period, voters can cast ballots at any location in the county they are registered to vote in.

Can I wear my “Beto for Senate” or “Cruz for Senate” shirt to the polls?

No. Doing so constitutes electioneering, which is illegal in Texas.

Voters who are caught wearing campaign gear to the polls may get asked to turn their shirts inside out or to put on a jacket. Refusal to do so could result in being turned away from the polls.

Under Texas law, a person “may not electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, political party” within 100 feet of the voting site during early voting or on Election Day.

What form of ID do I need to bring?

You can see more details about the acceptable forms of ID in this Texplainer, but here’s a summary.

Voting in Texas requires a valid photo ID. Polling places accept seven types of photo ID:

  • A state driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • A Texas election identification certificate (issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety)
  • A Texas personal identification card (issued by DPS)
  • A Texas license to carry a handgun (issued by DPS)
  • A U.S. military ID card that includes a personal photo
  • A U.S. citizenship certificate that includes a personal photo
  • A U.S. passport

What if I don’t have a valid photo ID?

Voters who do not have any of those documents and cannot “reasonably obtain” them can still cast a vote if they sign a form in which they swear that they have a “reasonable impediment” from obtaining appropriate identification. Those voters will also have to present one of the following types of ID:

  • A valid voter registration certificate
  • A certified birth certificate
  • A copy or original of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other document that shows the voter’s name and address (any government document that contains a voter’s photo must be an original).


Shapes of the U.S. House, State Board of Education, Texas Senate and Texas House districts, historical election results and demographic data were provided by the Texas Legislative Council.

The Texas Legislative Council’s demographic analysis is based on the 2012-2016 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates produced by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Candidate information was sourced from the Texas Secretary of StateTexas Democratic Party, the Republican Party of Texas, the Libertarian Party of Texas and additionally through Texas Tribune research.

Information regarding the voting process was collected from the Texas Secretary of State and sourced from Texas Tribune reporting.

Authors: ALEX SAMUELS AND RYAN MURPHY – The Texas Tribune 

Darla Cameron and Elbert Wang contributed to this story.

Texans Face New Voter ID Law for March 6 Primaries

AUSTIN – When Texans head to the polls March 6 for the first primary of the 2018 midterm elections, they’ll face a new Voter ID law.

That law, which went into effect Jan. 1, keeps the same list of permissible forms of identification, but allows Texans without a photo ID to vote if they present an alternate form of ID, such as a utility bill or pay stub.

However, according to Beth Stevens, voting rights director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, to use an alternative ID, you’ll have to sign a “reasonable impediment form” stating why you couldn’t obtain a proper ID.

She maintains the form, which sternly warns of the possible penalties for voter fraud, is designed to intimidate minority voters.

“On the reasonable impediment form itself, there’s going to be notice to the voter of, ‘Look, here are the things you could be charged with’ – perjury, or there’s a state jail felony,” she points out. “So, you can imagine as a voter going in and reading that, it can be scary.”

Stevens says the new law was revised last year by the Legislature after the courts struck down the 2011 Voter ID Law.

A federal judge ruled in 2017 that the first law was discriminatory, and is still considering whether state lawmakers passed that law with the intent to discriminate.

And even though the new version of the law is in effect, Stevens says yet another legal challenge could be in the offing.

Stevens says the Texas Civil Rights Project has joined the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition, a national effort to ensure voting rights.

The coalition will have trained volunteers and attorneys answering toll-free phone numbers in English, Spanish and a multi-Asian-language line to assist Texans with any problems they may encounter in the voting process.

“Anyone can call these numbers and ask anything as seemingly mundane as, ‘I don’t know where my polling location is,’ all the way to something more sinister like, ‘I’m in line to vote and I’m being intimidated,'” Stevens states.

She adds the coalition is also training hundreds of observers to place at polling stations across the state to ensure that voting rights are upheld, during both the March primaries and the general election in November.

Early voting for the primary begins Feb. 20.

Author:  Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

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