Texas Democrats 2020 Series is a multi-part look on Texas Democrats’ path to victory in 2020. In today’s post, we look at the obstacles that have historically prevented Texans from voting, and how we’re going to tear down those hurdles and expand ballot box access across the state.
To turn Texas blue in 2020, Texas Democrats are committed to making sure Texas voters have access to the ballot box. We recently shared the details of our comprehensive, statewide voter registration program, which has set into motion our path to victory.
Texas Democrats will never stop fighting back against all Republican attempts to suppress the vote. Last week, we won a lawsuit to force the Texas Department of Public Safety to comply with the National Voter Registration Act. We won against David Whitley and stopped his voter purge. We are in court to reverse the ban on mobile voting.
In addition, Texas Democrats have begun building the most comprehensive voter protection program in Texas history. We will not allow Republican attempts to make voting more difficult for eligible Texans. We have been working diligently to guarantee that every registered voter in Texas has the opportunity to participate in our democracy.
The Texas Democratic Party is the focal point of the Democratic offensive strategy, and the electoral milestones we’ve reached in recent elections have set the stage for a blue Texas in 2020. Texas Democrats are fighting to make sure this next election — the most important in our lifetime — is free, fair, and accessible.
To expand and improve our voter protection efforts, Texas Democrats are proud to partner with Stacey Abrams and her organization, Fair Fight.
Leader Abrams and Fair Fight believe in the Democratic Texas we’re building. That’s why they have invested in our voter protection efforts. We will expand on the details of our Fair Fight partnership below.
Protecting the right to vote is our responsibility. We should be making it easier for eligible Texans to cast their ballot. We’ve identified hurdles that Texas voters face, and we’ve outlined how we’re going to challenge and ultimately tear down these obstacles. Thanks to our new Voter Protection Team, Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight, and the voter protection volunteers across Texas, the Texas Democratic Party is going to expand access to the ballot box, turn Texas blue up and down the ballot, and shape the political future of our great state.
The right to vote is under attack.
Our nation is better off when more Americans participate in our democracy. The reality is Republicans and powerful special interests are trying to rig our elections.
From trying to purge hundreds of thousands of voters from the voter rolls to discriminatory voter ID restrictions, Texas Republicans have made every attempt possible to limit voting rights for Texans. The biggest threat to Texas elections is that Texas Republicans have used their legislative power to corrupt the integrity of our democracy. Texas Republicans continue to try to make voting more confusing, scary, and difficult. It’s just plain wrong for politicians to try to influence elections by discouraging voters that don’t agree with them.
To minimize and ultimately dismantle the effects of Republican voter suppression, Texas Democrats have mounted an expansive, statewide voter protection initiative unprecedented in its scope. We are mobilizing and energizing our movement across Texas to ensure every eligible voter can cast a ballot that counts.
"The Texas Democratic Party refused to stand by as Republican leaders continued to disenfranchise voters."
Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas Democratic Party Chair
The Solution: Voter Protection
Texas Democrats are thrilled to partner with Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight to ensure every Texan has access to the ballot box. During her 2018 gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams experienced first-hand how voter suppression can single-handedly determine the outcome of an election. Her opponent, who was overseeing the election in which he was also running, targeted voters of color and actively worked to dilute their voting power and limit their access to the polls.
After the election in Georgia, Leader Abrams didn’t just get angry, she got active. She founded her organization Fair Fight to ensure that voters across the country were protected against predatory tactics used to discourage, disenfranchise, and disempower them. Texas Democrats are working alongside Leader Abrams and Fair Fight to fund, recruit for, train and support a robust voter protection team of staff and volunteers — and we’re starting now, not weeks before the election.
The investments of Leader Abrams and Fair Fight in the Texas Democratic Party marks a pivotal moment for our country, and we thank them endlessly for their support.
Voter Protection Team
The Texas Democratic Party has hired two new staff members who will be at the helm of our voter protection efforts. In addition to my role as our voter protection director, we have Darcy Caballero on board as voter assistance hotline manager.
Texas Democratic Party Legislative Affairs Director Glen Maxey, a former Democratic Representative in the Texas House, has laid the groundwork for our robust voter protection framework throughout his decades-long career in Texas politics. Not only has he developed key relationships with both Republicans and Democrats across Texas’ elections community, Glen has also spearheaded initiatives to improve state law and make voting easier for eligible Texas voters. Thanks to his unwavering commitment, our 2020 Voter Protection Team is equipped with the resources needed to expand our protection of Texas voters.
Texas Democrats are also proud to work with voting rights attorney Chad Dunn, General Counsel for the Texas Democratic Party. Since his appointment in 2003, Chad has successfully pursued voting rights and redistricting cases on the party’s behalf across the state. From regulatory and election cases to civil rights and redistricting suits, Chad has represented the party as we challenge voter suppression at every turn.
Our voter protection team will adopt a multifaceted approach to delve deeper into protecting voters from the hurdles that stand between them and the ballot box. We will be proactive by working to break down barriers to voting before they affect voters. We’ll also be actively supporting voters during every step of the voting process.
Texas has one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the country, which illustrates the potential for historic Democratic gains at the ballot box.
It’s projected that by 2022, one in three voters in Texas will be under 30. Through a robust voter registration effort, which you can read more about here, Texas Democrats will catapult these young voters to the epicenter of Texas’ electoral infrastructure. Many of our young voters will cast their first ballots in 2020, so Texas Democrats are working tirelessly to monitor voter registration processes, to ensure they and all eligible Texans are able to register to vote and to have experts on-hand when voters encounter questions and challenges.
As part of their larger scheme to suppress the vote, Republicans led an initiative in 2019 to ban polling sites that primarily serve young voters across Texas. The Texas Democratic Party, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed a lawsuit to overturn the ban on “mobile” early voting sites that expand ballot box access for Texans living near colleges and universities, and those without reliable access to transportation. For example, a voter who lives near Big Bend might need to drive over an hour and a half to vote early under the new Republican law.
In 2018, voter turnout rose by 18 percent over other midterm elections and the youth early vote rose by 508 percent compared to 2014. Early voting and “mobile,” or temporary voting sites, offered more voters, inspired by the pool of great Democratic candidates running at every level, the opportunity to cast their ballots. Republicans have pushed the ban in part to suppress the youth vote; however, thanks to Texas Democrats, student groups, and election administrators, the provision appears to be backfiring.
In order to comply with the state law, elections administrators across Texas are investing in these mobile polling locations to make them permanent during the full early voting period. For example, in Dallas County, the elections administrator has authorized and financed permanent polling places on eight college campuses since the ban on temporary sites went into effect. Texas Democrats are working with elections administrators across Texas’ 254 counties to establish permanent solutions and make voting more convenient for regular people.
In addition to the mobile voting locations, Texas Democrats have challenged various other arbitrary voting laws that actively suppress voting access. Alongside the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Texas Democrats filed a lawsuit in January 2020 to challenge the ban on so-called “wet signatures” spearheaded by Republicans.
Days before the voter registration deadline for the Texas primary, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas Democratic Party, DSCC, and DCCC was awarded an injunction in our lawsuit forcing the Texas Department of Public Safety to properly register certain named voters who fell into the trap set by the state’s discriminatory policy of not allowing Texans who update their Driver’s Licenses online to automatically update their voter registration.
By responding to the widespread irregularities that often arise, including inaccurate voter rolls, a scarcity of voting machines, shortages of provisional ballots, and more, Texas Democrats, with the support of Fair Fight will also monitor election administrators’ preparation efforts for the 2020 election and ensure trained poll observers are present at polling sites across the state.
Texas Democrats are working to foster a culture of voter registration, early engagement, and enthusiastic turnout in Texas. To safeguard this new culture of participation, our voter protection team will focus on challenging and minimizing the effects of intimidation tactics and legal efforts, like discriminatory voter ID laws, meant to suppress voting amongst vulnerable Texans.
.@texasdemocrats are building the largest voter protection effort in Texas history to win in 2020. In order to expand on this critical infrastructure, we are proud to partner with @staceyabrams and her organization @fairfightaction. Read more → https://t.co/UqAloAizHG pic.twitter.com/MfUfAfb5RA
— Texas Democrats (@texasdemocrats) February 6, 2020
Voter Protection Volunteers Council
Additionally, our staffers at the helm of voter protection will be organizing the hundreds of Democratic volunteers devoted to voter protection efforts who make up the Texas Democrats’ Voter Protection Council. Our voter protection volunteers and Voter Protection Council will keep a watchful eye on the full range of voting developments in Texas. Our volunteers will focus on key issues affecting voter turnout and voter protection in Texas, including keeping a pulse on voting locations, poll worker training, voter registration, election technology, and more.
Our voter protection volunteers will attend meetings, develop relationships with key leaders in their area, organize their local communities, recruit Texans for poll monitoring, report any instances of voting problems, and generally be the Texas Democrats’ eyes and ears in their communities.
Poll Monitoring Program
Maintaining free and honest elections is one of the cornerstones of the Texas Democratic Party’s mission. We aspire to help voters navigate the intricacies of voting, guarantee their questions are being answered, and ensure their votes are being counted.
The Texas Democrats’ Voter Protection Team, in conjunction with our full-time staffers and volunteers, is recruiting volunteer poll watchers across Texas to be at polling places on Election Day.
In order to make sure Texans’ voting rights are not being violated when they head to their polling locations to cast a ballot, Texas Democrats’ poll watchers will observe the voting process, report any voting irregularities, and advocate on voters’ behalf should they encounter any confusion or issues while voting.
By monitoring the voting processes at polling locations across the state, and providing voters with the informational resources they need while casting a ballot, Texas Democrats are working to cultivate an equitable voting culture in Texas.
MyTexasVotes.com, our one-stop voter information website
MyTexasVotes.com empowers voters to make their plan to vote, find their polling, and receive reminder texts and emails about their voting plan. Democrats across our great state are ready to protect healthcare, expand economic opportunity, and fight for a fair shot for all. Whether Texans have questions about voter registration, voter participation, or voter protection, Texas Democrats will be there every step of the way. By providing voters with accurate and accessible information, Texas Democrats are helping voters across the state navigate the voting process.
In addition to our online voter information hub MyTexasVotes.com, Texas Democrats have launched a hotline resource for voters across the state.
Year-Round Voter Assistance Hotline
Our voter protection initiative will include a year-round, multilingual Voter Assistance Hotline. Texans who wish to quickly access voting information or share their voting experience can speak to our dedicated voter protection volunteers who are operating the hotline.
One of the ways in which Republicans have made voting harder is by limiting access to voting information and making it harder to register to vote. Texas Democrats are countering this with an innovative approach of our own — providing Texans with an array of Texas Democratic Party channels where they can obtain voting information. Through our online voting information hub MyTexasVotes.com and our newly launched Voter Assistance Hotline at 844-TX-VOTES, Texans are able to get information about registering to vote, understand their voting rights, locate their polling place, and report any voting-related issues.
Investment & Conclusion
Texas Democrats are making meaningful, lasting investments ahead of the November 2020 election to protect the voters of Texas. By launching a multifaceted initiative aimed at deconstructing the hurdles that have been erected by Republicans to hinder voting access, Texas Democrats are going to expand the Texas electorate and ensure every single eligible voter in Texas has access to the ballot box.
Help us close the statewide gap and ensure every eligible voter in Texas has the opportunity to participate in our elections — donate to the Texas Democratic Party today.