By Olivia Stitilis
At the start of 2020, Texas Democrats unveiled our comprehensive, statewide Voter Expansion Program which details how we will register millions of new voters and expand opportunities for voters to participate in our democracy.
In partnership with the Voter Expansion team, the Texas Democratic Party is now launching a statewide Organizing Program that redefines what it means to organize in Texas. Through innovative, relational, and constituency driven organizing tactics, we will engage, train and mobilize volunteers in every corner of the state. We will expand the electorate, elect Democrats up and down the ticket in November, and create a lasting volunteer infrastructure that catalyzes community change and growth beyond 2020.
In order to set the stage for a new era of organizing in Texas, we will be first and foremost grounded in quality – quality experiences with voters, volunteers, staff, training, recruitment efforts, and quality relationships. Our organizing will be guided by clear values and united around a culture that puts volunteers and community members first. We will be informed, not burdened by the past, and we will approach every day and every interaction as an opportunity to organize.
We will invest early in places that traditionally have been forgotten or left behind. Our team will work collaboratively with the communities we serve, approach new situations with humility, and be transparent with our goals by soliciting feedback every step of the way. We recognize that there is no one size fits all approach to organizing in Texas, and are motivated to craft specific and effective programs that showcase what Democrats can accomplish when united around a shared belief that we can make history in 2020.
Phase 2: March 4 — June 7
We’ve developed an organizing timeline, broken into phases, each of which has a unique set of goals and intentions. In this series, we will primarily discuss the second phase of our organizing rollout. The milestones we reach and the successes we achieve during each phase will have a direct impact on the goals we set in the stages thereafter.
For planning purposes, we break out 2020 into several phases:
Phase 1: January 2020 through the Primary (March 3)
Phase 2: Primary through the State Convention (June 6)
Phase 3: State Convention through Labor Day (September 7)
Phase 4: Labor Day through the Voter Registration deadline (October 5)
Phase 5: Voter Registration through Election Day (November 3)
Voter Registration Programming
Critical to our path to victory is expanding the electorate. We have developed an array of programs that will set us up for success to accomplish just that. Some programs will be implemented across all of Texas and other programming will only be for certain constituencies or areas of the state.
In an effort to build strong community relationships across the state, Organizers will host Voter Registration Community Strategy Sessions. By meeting with community members in small groups to discuss the best ways to do voter registration in their particular part of Texas, Organizers and local leaders will have the opportunity to share ideas and come together collectively.
To scale up our voter registration effort, we are running an ambitious Volunteer Deputy Registrar Recruitment Program that recruits volunteer deputy registrars who are trained and certified to be able to officially register voters in their county. Volunteer deputy registrars are responsible for officially registering voters in the State of Texas. Appointed by county voter registrars, deputy registrars are tasked with helping increase voter registration across our great state.
We’ll boost the impact of those volunteer deputy registrars through our High Traffic Voter Registration Program. Organizers will recruit to build up voter registration volunteer teams that disperse throughout high traffic areas to maximize their collection of forms.
This intentional strategy will allow the organizing program to expand its efforts and will also equip community members with the tools and skills needed to organize their communities beyond November. By the end of phase two, the Organizing team will have recruited at least one new Volunteer Deputy Registrar in all 254 counties.
We will launch RegisterTexas a web-based platform that guides volunteers and organizers to blockwalk unregistered voters in targeted areas. The RegisterTexas platform will also highlight any voter we mail an application to register through our Democratic Movers registration program, making it easy for volunteers to remind those voters to mail in their applications. This tool will help the organizing program be even more efficient with resources and increase the number of voters we can register through blockwalking.
Finally, we will launch specific voter registration programs targeting communities that require earlier attention and more intensive relationship-building to organize effectively, such as our South Texas Voter Registration Program and Rural Voter Registration Program, and we will recruit Campus and High School Voter Registration Captains who will identify, build relationships with and train high school and college students to help with strategic initiatives at their school.
By the end of phase two, the Organizing team will have recruited at least one new Volunteer Deputy Registrar in all 254 counties.
Constituency Organizing Programming
The Constituency Organizing platform consists of six Organizers, each of whom focuses on building relationships with the AAPI, African American, Latinx, LGBTQ+, People with Disabilities and Gen-Z/Millennial constituencies. In phase two, Organizers are dedicated to building coalitions within their constituencies, developing partner relationships, and implementing constituency specific volunteer recruitment and engagement opportunities.
We will host multiple constituency based voter registration events per month with each event targeting a different sub-constituency. Organizers will train constituency specific Volunteer Leaders to lead events across the state. This will allow the team to increase their output and create an infrastructure of ambassadors to the Constituency Organizing program across Texas.
Constituency Organizers will also create Constituency Organizer Tool Kits containing resources and training materials to support our larger Organizing Program and to help volunteers working within their constituencies. These will include best practice one-pagers, handbooks, background information, and interactive training materials. For example, they will put together resources for how to do voter registration effectively in each community. We will share these resources with candidates, staff, and make them publically available on our website.
By building relationships with volunteers, voters, influencers, community leaders, and progressive organizations, our Constituency Organizers will create a diverse organizing infrastructure that empowers Texans in communities across Texas.
Community Partnership Programming
Above all else, we will continue to implement programs that showcase the strength of the Democratic movement across Texas.
Before the end of phase two, we will facilitate Organizing Meetings that will provide opportunities for organizing staff to introduce themselves, ask questions, learn from attendees, share parts of the phase two organizing plan, and solicit feedback in at least 100 counties across Texas.
We will also work with communities to produce bimonthly Days of Service in numerous regions across Texas that rally community members around a specific issue outside of volunteering for the Texas Democrats. Day of Service Activities can include cleaning a park or helping at a school and allow our program to give back to the areas where we are working and connect over the issues that matter most in 2020.
The focus of our organizing apparatus will be expansive; we plan to go beyond just working to elect Democrats. We want our Field Offices to be community centers. Field Offices will be hubs where we can make calls and host events, but also a place where anyone can come and spend time in. Organizers will have offices staffed by local volunteers and tailor the office to the needs of the community they are in.
In Phase Two we will launch the Rural Organizing Program. The program will consist of rural relationship mapping, a rural tour, a series of Rural Summits, and rural organizing support systems and structures. Our rural tour will be an opportunity to hear concerns, present the Phase Two program plan, and recruit local applicants for full-time and part-time organizing positions. We know that programming in rural communities looks different than urban and suburban areas, and Texas Democrats are committed to providing targeted training and creating a sense of team across large areas.
We know that our volunteers already have pre-existing networks, from their coworkers and their neighbors to their family, and if we are going to engage volunteers across the entire state we will need them to engage those they know best. We will facilitate relational networking trainings which give volunteers the support and the guidance to have effective in-person conversations about why they are volunteering and why others should join them.
While the bulk of campus programming will happen in the late summer and fall, we will implement a Spring Campus Program on the campuses included in the first five regions. The goal of the spring program is to register voters, recruit for part-time and full-time positions within the organizing program, increase visibility on campus and foster trust with campus groups and leadership.
We will also launch a part-time Spring Organizing Fellowship program in the field that targets high school, young adults, and college students that want to learn more about working on campaigns, get hands-on experience organizing and be in the pipeline for a full-time Organizing job.
Phase Two culminates at the State Convention. As the largest state convention in the country, with 15,000+ attendees, the Texas Democratic Convention holds abundant opportunities for volunteer recruitment, volunteer training, and voter registration. It also serves as an opportunity to present the work the Organizing team accomplished in the previous twelve weeks.
For years, the pundits have called Texas “the future” of the Democratic Party, or America, itself. Texas isn’t just the future. Texas is now.
In 2020, Texas Democrats will defy expectations for what collective and relationship-driven action can accomplish. We are fighting for a more equitable, inclusive, and hopeful Texas and we have clear eyes on the high stakes and on everything we can accomplish. When we come together, raise the bar, get organized and never settle, we will redefine what is possible this election cycle and for a generation to come.