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The next voter registration project

Necessary, but not sufficient.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Texas Democrats’ takeaways from the 2020 election are clear: to take back our state from Texas Republicans, Democrats need to register more voters. With Republicans’ increasing extremism and relentless attacks on Texans this spring, the stakes have never been higher in the fight for Texas’ future.

Today, in a press conference with Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Carol Alvarado, State Sen. Royce West, Texas House Democratic Dean Senfronia Thompson, Texas Legislative Black Caucus Chair Nicole Collier, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair Rafael Anchía, House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, and Texas Democratic Party Chief Strategy Officer Luke Warford, Texas Democrats unveiled Project Texas, our comprehensive plan to register Texas Democrats and take back our state in the 2022 elections. The full recording of the press conference is available here, and you can read more about the plan here.

There are more than 2 million eligible Texans who would likely vote Democratic — but are not yet registered. With Project Texas, Texas Democrats will work to register as many of these voters as possible, because we believe that every eligible Texan should be able to register and vote, safely and conveniently. Texas Democrats have consulted with partners across the state and beyond to create a plan to get Texas Democrats registered — both using proven approaches, and testing out innovative ways to encourage Texans to fill out their forms and get registered.

Project Texas includes two phases. First, Texas Democrats will test out six approaches to voter registration through our 2021 pilot program, and identify which tactics work best. Then, we will scale up the most effective methods to do a massive voter registration push in 2022.

Of the 2 million unregistered likely Democratic voters in Texas, more than half are Latino, ⅕ are Black and ¼ are 25 years of age or younger. Outreach to young Texans and Latino and Black communities will be a foundational part of our Project Texas programming. Every Democrat we register gives Texans a better shot at tipping the scales and putting Democrats in power in 2022.

I agree that voter registration is an evergreen project – there are many people moving here, many people turning 18, many new citizens, and still many people who were never registered in the first place; we also have to remember the people who move to new addresses, and who fell off the voter rolls for one reason or another. There will never come a time when we can say “okay, we’re done here”. I doubt there will ever be a time when we’ll be able to just coast and let voter registration be a background task.

But as much as voter registration matters, it’s clearly not enough. For one thing, Republicans were registering voters in the 2020 cycle as well. I have no idea how many they might have signed up and how many of them subsequently turned out, but we don’t have this field to ourselves any more. Once people are registered, we have to turn them out, and we have to make sure the people we’re turning out are going to vote for our candidates. Lots of first-time Republicans showed up in 2020 as well, after all. We also need to be paying some more attention to our already-registered but less-frequent voters.

On the assumption that something like SB7 is eventually going to pass, the next part of this process is going to have to be to make sure all of our voters know what the new requirements and restrictions are. We’ve mostly managed to deal with the voter ID hurdle, and now there are going to be many more such obstacles. I hope we have a plan to make sure everyone knows what they will need to do to cast a ballot that counts in 2022 and beyond. For sure, whatever law we end up with will be litigated, but we can’t count on the courts to save us. We need to be prepared to live and vote in the world that is being foisted on us.

None of this is revolutionary, and I assume the TDP folks have their plans in place. I’m putting this out there in part to let you know about it and in part to make sure we’re all cognizant of how the ground is shifting. We have made a lot of progress in the last four years, as I hope my precinct analysis posts have shown, but there’s more to do and the conditions under which we do them are changing. We have to keep up with, and get ahead of, those changes.

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3 Comments

  1. Lobo says:

    Vote for Us: We are for Democracy and Weed

    Do Tex Dems even have a program, i.e. set of proposed public policies to make the “Great State of Texas” even greater once control is wrestled from the Republicans, if ever?

    You see, Abbott and ilk don’t need one because they would have us believe that the State of Texas is already the greatest state in the US, and right up there in the top ten if we pulled off a Texit.

    And the electric grid has been fixed, you-all. Legislators allowed that more needed to be done, but not Abbott, who proclaimed that we was signing a comprensive package that had taken care of all problems. The Texas power grid is now even more secure and even more rebust than ever before. – Blah.

    Never again will you freeze again, folks. Especially not in the dog days of summer. After all, we have purged all non-Texans from the ERCOT board, and political appointees will now be in charge of ERCOT, not just the PUC.

    So Dems, how about an energy policy for Texas, so the local utilities can keep the lights and the indoorsy climate-control on for you and me, and so that Texas – in the longer run – doesn’t get left in the dust (or cold) when Europe has moved to a new integrated energy system with low carbon component and high reliability and efficiency?

    WHAT’S ON THE MENU FOR MAYBE-MAYBENOT VOTERS ?

    When you go prospecting for policy content in the Trib. article on the Dems’ latest recruitment effort, you learn that one of the selling point is legalized weed.

    “Ground Game Texas will organize Texans around issues rather than candidates, with a focus on what Siegel and Oliver are calling “workers, wages and weed” — issues like raising the minimum wage and legalizing marijuana that poll well but are not reflected by Republican policymakers in the state.”

    Is that enough to appeal to the disenchanted masses? And if they are complacent enough to put faith in weed and seek salvation in stupor — rather than in political activism to work for a better future — why would they get off the couch and vote, even with declared weeders featured on the ballot?

    That said, Beto has been on a good trail, endeavoring to reach out to folks in neglected parts of the State by showing up in the town square or community park for the pick-up equivalent of a whistle stop. He must have figured out that every vote in small-town and rural counties is a valuable statewide vote too, even when the local districts are noncompetitive and overwhelmingly conservative. And he has been at it for a while.

    When folks personally meet and get greeted by a well-known political figure, they are bound to remember him. At least there would be a personal — a candidate-specific — reason to vote for such a Democrat, even if the party as such has nothing constructive to offer. As long as he has it in him to connect and made a good impression.

    As for Beto’s policy content, being pro-Democracy and for political participation is better than nothing.

    But you can’t win statewide only with souls from black churches. There just ain’t enough of them. The Dems latest inititiave is – to all appearances — all about minority politics.

    Selective tribalized recruitment may be an effective strategy, but what Dem leaders present to the public matters too. The message that the Democratic Party is a party only for blacks and Hispanics won’t resonate well with Anglos. And what about Texans of German or Czech descent? Neither party even acknowldges their existence.

    And on a more unversalist note sounding in democratic theory: voting rights are for all citizens, not just for descendants of slaves. It’s a mistake to reduce access to the polls to an issue of race, or a specific ethnicity, not to mention affirmative action.

  2. Lori Hathaway says:

    Democracy isn’t about a single candidate, if so, I’d have lost interest long ago. But I do feel the need to comment on Lobo’s comment above.

    I was born in Texas, educated in Texas- and by and educator and activist. At one time, three generations of women in our family were card carrying VDVRs. My mother passed away in February, and my eldest now lives- and votes- in Atlanta. I’ve been a lege watcher for years- and no single session before this last one has damaged the rights of Texans to vote. I could take up the cause as a Democrat, (trust me, my progressive bonefides are legit), or I could focus all my energy championing plain old democracy through the LWV.

    Tonight I sat in on the kick off redistricting zoom- tomorrow I’m delivering tents to a county employee running Voter Registration at Houston ISD Graduations. Saturday I’m registering voters at Delmar. Sunday, yes, I’m joining the PxP team to be a part of the movement to reclaim democracy for citizens.

    The point is, first register EVERY eligible voter. Then develop- AND DELIVER ON- policies that make the American Dream of a solid middle class life and retirement reality.

    It’s a multi stage process. Get everyone registered, then make sure the policies championed are better than what Koch puts out. But we can and should, compete on ideas.

  3. […] two years’ time I’ll be reading about yet another new effort to organize and engage and register. That’s fine, and it doesn’t mean that what came (and possibly went) before now was […]

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