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Home | Tag Archives: texas vote

Tag Archives: texas vote

Analysis: Mentions in a Few News Stories Can’t Turn a Candidate into a Contender

Despite the constant stream of stories about the midterm elections, most candidates on the Texas ballots aren’t getting much attention outside of their small circles of supporters, donors and advisors. As a result, some have rejiggered their campaigns into grassroots efforts to hound reporters and editors into mentioning their names every time those news outlets write about politics or elections.

That’s not how this works. What gets attention and what doesn’t is vital to candidates — especially if they’re unknown, unheralded, from third parties with small followings, or are starving for notice far down a ballot stuffed with big-time, big-money candidates.

But the attention they want — that they need, in order to have some influence on the civic conversation and some support at the polls — doesn’t come from the news media. It comes from voters.

Some candidates blame their lack of notoriety on their lack of news mentions, like primitives who decide the wind blows because the trees move back and forth. They’re finding, like their predecessors, that you’re not news because you get mentioned by the news media; you get mentioned by the news media because you’re making news.

Getting onto the ballot is news. Once. Getting into a debate — which is, for the most part, a negotiation among political competitors — can be news, both in those negotiations themselves and then the performance in that debate, if a debate takes place. Drawing big crowds. Having ideas that catch on with those crowds. Having a real influence on the outcome of an election, either as a winner or as a spoiler.

Political reporters chase that kind of stuff. The Tea Party — a textbook example of outsiders organically creating a major political movement — didn’t get started in the papers or on radio or TV. Crowds started showing up all over the place (with help from early-stage social media) and those crowds made news.

Candidates from the parties — and from outside the parties — do this from time to time. Ron Paul made his mark as a Libertarian, turning eventually to the GOP to win a spot in Congress. In the 2006 governor’s race in Texas, 31.2 percent of the vote went to candidates who were not flying the Republican or Democratic flag. The winner, Republican Rick Perry, was re-elected with 39 percent. The third-party and independent candidates — Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Kinky Friedman, James Werner and James “Patriot” Dillon — combined to win more votes than Chris Bell, the Democrat in that race.

Third-party candidates generally haven’t done well in Texas, performing best in races where either the Democrats or Republicans haven’t fielded candidates. Ken Ashby, a Libertarian, got 19.4 percent of the vote against Republican U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling in 2016, but there were no Democrats in the race. One sign that U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, might be vulnerable is that he got 71 percent of the vote in his 2016 race — with no Democrat on the ballot. Libertarian Ed Rankin and Gary Stuard of the Green Party got 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

But they generally don’t win races. In fact, it’s unusual for Libertarian candidates to get more than 5 percent in races where both of the major parties have contestants. They do get enough votes to win access to the ballot — another way of saying their candidates are automatically included on the page when you vote. That’s better than the Green Party has fared lately.

It fuels their anger at being left out. That’s understandable. There they are on the ballot in Texas, but they haven’t been able to elbow their way into the conversations about debates or property taxes or marijuana or much else. That’s got to be frustrating.

Neal Dikeman and Mark Tippetts are running for U.S. Senate and governor, respectively, as nominees of the Libertarian Party of Texas. Each has a campaign underway to get more media attention, Dikeman by trying to edge his way into debates via social media, Tippetts by urging supporters on Facebook to “make some noise” about getting into publications like this one.

Each would like to be on stage in debates with the Republicans and Democrats whose parties dominate Texas and American politics and whose candidates have a much easier time getting attention. So would Kerry McKennon, the Libertarian running for lieutenant governor; Michael Ray Harris, the party’s candidate for attorney general; comptroller candidate Ben Sanders; land commissioner nominee Matt Piña; and Michael Wright, who wants to be a railroad commissioner.

They’re having a hard time getting mentioned and getting noticed by voters in a way that might help them get mentioned. It’s probably not fair. It is market-based, however: political news tends to follow influence and money — and stories. And interest, too: Like in political columns about candidates who can’t attract attention.

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Despair, Meteors and F-bombs: Texans’ Write-in Voters had a Lot to Say

Texans who weren’t interested in any of the presidential candidates on the ballot wrote in everything from Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz to Chuck Norris and Harambe. Some left colorful messages for election officials.

This year’s presidential election may have caused a surge in the number of Texas ballots cast, but not everyone who voted was excited about the major-party candidates. Or was interested in casting a ballot for one of the 13 certified write-in candidates whose votes were officially counted.

Thousands of voters instead wrote in others — living and dead, real and fictional — for president. In an hours-long investigation, The Texas Tribune reviewed the tallies for uncertified write-in candidates to give voice to at least some of the voters whose presidential picks were completely and totally rejected.

We looked at uncertified write-in tallies in four of the five largest counties: Bexar, Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties. (Our request for Dallas County’s list of uncertified write-in votes has yet to be fulfilled.)

Bexar’s results were the most difficult to draw overarching conclusions from because they were grouped by individual precincts and not candidates.

But clearly, many Texans weren’t happy with their choices. Hundreds of urban voters wrote in some version of “no confidence,” “anyone else,” “none of the above,” “none” and the like. More than a dozen Texans didn’t just abstain from voting for president but actually took the time to write the word “abstain.” A Bexar County voter wrote “undecided.”

And those were the friendlier ways Texas expressed their disdain for major-party candidates. One person in Travis wrote “disappointed” while another wrote “disgusted.”  Someone in Harris wrote, “America deserves better.”

It gets sassier from there. An apparent Bexar County Republican used their vote to request “a real conservative.” A Harris voter wanted “anyone else except Cruz.” Someone in Travis just wrote “Texit,” a play on this year’s “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom. Each of those three counties also got one vote each for “We the People” and “We Can Do Better.”

And it gets darker. Two Harris voters cast ballots for anarchy. Another in Bexar simply said (or warned?), “control is an illusion.”

One person in Harris wrote “America U R Broken.” The sentiment from another Harris voter: “I just cant.”

Then there were the lighthearted write-ins. Some version of “giant meteor” or “giant asteroid” got about 8 votes. That includes the very particular “sweet meteor of death.” And someone in Harris County just went with a “bag of tarantulas.”

At least we think those were meant as jokes. Maybe they were genuine pleas, along with the nine or so voters who wrote some version of “God help us” or “God help America.”

Travis County, which includes Austin, seemed to have the most f-bombs. Two people there wrote “fuck you,” two more wrote “go fuck yourself” and another threw in a “go fuck yourself America” for good measure.

More insight from The Tribune’s disheartening, hilarious, uplifting and legitimately enlightening investigation:

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont waves while leaving the stage after addressing the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016.SCOTT AUDETTE / REUTERS
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont waves while leaving the stage after addressing the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016.SCOTT AUDETTE / REUTERS

Texans felt the Bern

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Democratic Party’s also-ran, appeared to top urban Texans’ list of uncertified write-ins. He

collectively got more than 4,000 write-in votes in Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties and scores more in Bexar County. Of course, most of the state’s urban counties lean more Democratic, so he may not have done as well in rural areas.

Republican presidential hopefuls who didn’t score their party’s nomination also did well, but none so more than Texas’ own Ted Cruz.

Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Despite no longer being an official candidate for president, the state’s junior U.S. Senator got more than 1,200 write-in votes in Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties.

He also appeared to lead his fellow Republicans with uncertified write-in votes from Bexar County.

Following up in second place in those counties, Ohio Gov. John Kasich was roughly neck-and-neck with someone who didn’t even run for president in 2016: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida trailed those two in Harris, Tarrant and Travis.

Another well-known figure who showed up a handful of times was former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who garnered national praise for how he steered that city following the deaths of five police officers who were ambushed and fatally shot by a gunman in July. He appeared to get three votes in neighboring Tarrant and at least one in Harris. Presumably, some Dallas voters also wrote his name in but, as we mentioned above, the county has yet to release that information.

Four more years!

President Obama couldn’t run again, but he scored more than three dozen write-in votes, from what we could tell. First Lady Michelle Obama did even better than that. She picked up at least 54 votes in Harris County alone.

Presidents George H. W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, also did well in the urban counties. They were roughly tied in Houston and Tarrant counties, but Travis voters seemed to prefer the father to the son.

Oh, and Michelle Obama wasn’t the only first lady who got a nod. At least one voter in Travis County would like to see Jackie Kennedy back in the White House.

Just sound it out… and add a vowel or two

One reason this isn’t an exact science: Spelling. Voters went into the booths with an array of ways to spell names of their preferred candidates and local election officials could not be bothered to reconcile the voters of Deez Nutz and Deez Nuts.

It appears Bernie Sanders gave write-in voters more trouble than anyone else. There were at least 24 versions of Sanders’ name in Travis County. Not to be outdone, Harris voters came up with about 30. Among variations in the four counties were Berny Sanders, Berni Sanders, Barnie Sanders and, because someone wanted to add syllables, there was also a Bernie Sasanders.

Meanwhile, someone in Tarrant County spelled Matthew McConaughey’s name flawlessly. Yet the actor didn’t appear to get any votes in his home Travis County.

Speaking of Celebrities

Only three Harris County voters likely cast ballots for their most famous resident, Beyonce Knowles. And that’s if you count the vote that

Cowboys at Redskins 9/18/16
Cowboys at Redskins 9/18/16

was just, “Bey.” Which we totally do. But that’s fewer votes than Grammy nominations she just received.

Other celebrities written in: media magnate Oprah Winfrey, singers Keith Richards and Eddie Vedder, actor and meme-magnet Chuck Norris and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman. Dolly Parton joked about running for president at her Austin concert this week. Hopefully all the Texans who voted for her – there’s at least three – caught the show.

Country singer George Strait was also a popular choice, especially in Harris County where he picked up about six votes. But, y’all, there’s only one true king when it comes to entertainers that Texans want to see in the Oval Office: Willie Nelson. The American icon scored more than 80 votes in Harris, Tarrant and Travis.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, leading the team on a long-awaited successful season, picked up at least five votes in Harris, Tarrant and Travis. How many in Dallas County? Again, we don’t know.

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt scored nine votes in Harris County and another one in Travis County.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban picked up at least 19 votes in urban counties.

Some dead celebrities got love, too. That includes Elvis Presley and Tupac Shakur. But neither did as well as fallen gorilla Harambe. Because 2016.

On the religious front, Pope Francis picked up a handful of votes. But his boss did way better. Jesus Christ garnered hundreds of write-in votes, if you assume people meant the religious figure and weren’t just fed up and using his name in vain. Someone in Bexar, on the other hand, would like to see what Lucifer would do in the White House.

Who cares about reality anyway?

Fake people – and animals – got some love, too. Batman scored at least three votes. Rocky got one. Aldus Dumbeldore scored two. So did Mary Poppins. Darth Vader got at least three, all in Harris County. Those folks also liked Frank Underwood, the fictional politician in House of Cards.

A Snoopy-Woodstock ticket got a nod in Travis County. Buddy the Elf got two votes in Tarrant.

Even Clark Kent got a vote. And people say Americans don’t trust journalists any more.

Then there was the Harris County voter who was very adamant about voting for Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character on Veep by writing “Selina Fucking Meyer.”

Because why should Austin voters get to have all the fun with obscenities?

Read more:

Julian Aguilar, Rodney Gibbs, Scott Hudson, Robert Inks, Jim Malewitz, Alexa Ura, Edgar Walters and Amanda Zamora contributed to this report.

Author:  BRANDON FORMBY – The Texas Tribune

Advocates Push for More Latino Votes in Texas

HOUSTON – Many political pundits speculate that Texas could take a major step toward becoming a blue state on Tuesday, and believe the Latino vote could be the difference. Texas has the second largest bloc of Latino voters in the country, but historically, they have not turned out in high enough numbers to affect the outcome.

Carlos Duarte, Texas director of Mi Familia Vota, is spending a lot of time knocking on doors in Latino neighborhoods in Houston. He said they could be a major force in Texas politics, if they vote.

“There’s always the hope that Latinos are just going to turn out proportionately to their numbers,” he said. “I think that it’s a gradual thing what that we have seen in the past, and that we will continue to see. I don’t expect to see 80 or 90 percent of Latinos turning out to vote.”

Latinos currently make up one-quarter of registered voters in Texas. Mi Familia Vota is a nonpartisan community organization with a goal of getting the state’s more than 5 million eligible Latino voters to the polls. Duarte said Latino turnout in Texas in 2012 was only 39 percent, well below the national Latino turnout of 48 percent.

He said he has been getting positive feedback from most of the families he’s met.

Duarte continued, “Something that we’ve always seen is people saying, ‘I’m going to vote. I’m going to take my children with me,’ or ‘I’m going to take my parents with me.’ ‘I’m going to take my sister, but I am definitely voting.’ So, I do sense a whole a lot of enthusiasm which I hadn’t seen in the past.”

Duarte added it’s unlikely that Texas will turn from a Republican to a Democratic state in this election, but with persistence, he believes it is possible.

“Everybody’s talking about ‘Latinos are turning out because of the attacks of Donald Trump.’ Bottom line: That obviously creates a context for people to participate, but unless there are real investments from all of the interested parties, we will continue to see a dismal turnout in Texas,” he explained.

Duarte said voter education on critical issues, such as criminal justice and school funding, is the key to Latinos moving forward.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service – TX

UT/TT Poll: Texas voters feeling high anxiety over election security

Texas voters are very, very wary of election fraud and other hijinks. And the voters whose candidates been winning for more than two decades are the most worried of all.


Voters in the party that has not lost a statewide election in Texas since 1994 are most likely to say that elections are fraught with criminality, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The findings echo Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “rigged election” theme and rising apprehension over foreign or criminal hackers.

Republicans, who have won every statewide election in Texas for the past two decades, were more likely than independents and much more likely than Democrats to say that “people voting who are not eligible” will be an “extremely serious” or “somewhat serious” problem in this year’s elections.

Nine of 10 Republicans said ineligible voters voting would be a serious problem, 69 percent of independents said so and only 23 percent of Democrats agreed. Three-quarters of the Democrats rated the problem “not too serious” or “not serious at all.”

Among the Republican voters, 70 percent ranked the problem as “extremely serious.”

“Wow,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, after looking over the results. “To me, it’s an indication of how unhappy people are with the system, how deeply they believe it is corrupt and incompetent.”


The same pattern held true when they were asked about people voting multiple times. Overwhelming numbers of Republican likely voters — 83 percent — said that will be a serious problem this year. among independent voters, 61 percent agreed with that, but only 24 percent of Democrats think multiple voting will be a serious problem.

“This is one of these showcase results where you have to ask the chicken-and-egg question about Republican attitudes in Texas and what Donald Trump seems to have wrought — but might just be plugging into,” said Jim Henson, who heads the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin and co-directs the poll. “Republicans nationally, but also in Texas, have been stoking worries about the election process in the absence of any systematic evidence of any real problems.”


The party lines blur a bit when voters are asked about “votes being counted inaccurately.” Three quarters of self-identified Republican and independent voters think that will be a serious concern this year, and 45 percent of Democrats agree with them.

And the lines fade more when it comes to “voting machines being hacked into by a foreign government or other bad actor.” That one got a serious ranking from 66 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats.


The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among likely voters — those who said either that they are certain to vote or that they have voted in “every” recent election — the margin of error is +/- 3.16 percentage points (n=959). Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

This is one of several stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Yesterday: The race for president. Also today: What Texas voters think about various state and federal officeholders and institutions.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here

Reference Material

UT/TT Poll, October 2016 – Methodology
UT/TT Poll, October 2016 – Summary

Author:  ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Texas to Russian official: Stay out of our Polling Places

Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos has said no to Russian officials’ request to watch Texans vote, according to correspondence obtained by The Texas Tribune.

“Please note that only persons authorized by law may be inside of a polling location during voting. All other persons are not authorized and would be committing a class C misdemeanor crime by entering,” Cascos wrote last month in a letter to Alexander K. Zakharov, the Russian consul general in Houston. “We are unable to accommodate your request to visit a polling station.”

Cascos was responding to Zakharov’s request, dated Sept. 24, that Texas allow someone in his office inside a polling station on Election Day “with the goal of studying the U.S. experience in organization of voting process.”

In his letter, Cascos instead offered to arrange an informational meeting between the Russians and local officials. Alicia Pierce, Cascos’ spokeswoman, said Friday that no such meeting was arranged.

Zakharov’s office did not answer a phone call from the Tribune, and it does not appear to use voicemail.

Texas was one of three states — including Louisiana and Oklahoma — that turned down such requests from Russia, according to the Tulsa World

The revelation comes in a presidential year in which Russia is playing a major role. Federal officials suspect the federation hacked into emails published by Wikileaks that have embarrassed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and Republican nominee Donald Trump has stirred controversy by expressing admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Texas is one of 12 states that explicitly prohibit or limit international election observers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

On Thursday, Kremlin-backed news outlet RT referenced the rejection from the three states in a story that claimed U.S. State Department officials were barring Russians from observing voting anywhere in the country — an accusation U.S. officials deny.

“In violation of all principles of democracy and international monitoring, in Texas they even threatened to hold monitors who appear at ballot stations criminally responsible,” an unnamed source said, according to RT.

A spokesman for the State Department told POLITICO that the episode was “nothing more than a PR stunt,” and noted that states set their own policies on election observers. “Any suggestion that we rejected Russia’s proposal to observe our elections is false,” he added, according to the news outlet.

In 2012, Gov. Greg Abbott, then the attorney general, caused a stir when he more forcefully warned a group of international election observers — the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe — not to set foot in a Texas polling place.

“UN poll watchers can’t interfere w/ Texas elections,” he tweeted at the time. “I’ll bring criminal charges if needed. Official letter posted soon. #comeandtakeit.”


Russian official requests to monitor Texas polling place PDF (21.7 KB) download
Texas rejects Russian request to monitor polling place PDF (27.3 KB) download

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

Record 15.1 million Texans Registered to vote in November Election

Texas registered a record-breaking 15,100,824 people to vote in the November election, the secretary of state’s office said Wednesday.

That’s about 85,000 more than the office’s preliminary estimate last week, and862,388 more than were registered in time for the March primaries. About 78 percent of Texas’ voting-age population is registered to vote in November, according to the secretary of state’s office.

There was a last-minute surge in applications ahead of the Oct. 11 deadline, the office said.

“It’s impossible to pinpoint a single reason that voter registration may have increased,” Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, told The Texas Tribune. “Traditionally, presidential elections attract a lot of attention, especially when there is not [an] incumbent in the White House. Also, Texas is a growing state and population increases likely contributed to the increase to some degree.”

In 2012, Texas registered 13,646,226 voters or 75 percent of the voting-age population. In 2008, the number was 13,575,062 or 77 percent of the voting-age population.

This year, the three counties with the most registered voters are the state’s most populous: Harris, Dallas and Tarrant, according to the secretary of state’s office. The three counties registered 2.2 million, 1.2 million and 1 million voters respectively.

Read more:

  • Texas registered a record 15 million people people to vote. This number exceeds the state’s registration numbers in 2012 by more than a million voters.
  • Texas ranked eighth-to-last in voter turnout for the presidential primaries.
  • Registering new people to vote is terrific, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t mean more people are going to actually cast votes.

Author:   – The Texas Tribune

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