Monday, April 9, 2012

Primary Voting Information

Today’s post has specific information for Texas, but some of it might be more generally useful. I try to keep friends apprised of voter information each election, and when I update, I go to some sites I’ve linked in the body of the piece below. But if you’re in another place, you can probably compile similar information for yourself and friends by doing an online search. Use words like “primary election, [your state and/or county]” or “voter information [your state and/or county]” or possibly your state or county party of choice.

There’s specific information below about Texas precinct meetings being eliminated this year (just this year). But, while every state is different, there is usually some variation of voters meeting together on or near voting day, and choosing delegates to the next level convention and deciding on propositions for the party’s platform. This is usually the grassroots method of developing a platform. So these meetings are a very good place to have influence, with only a commitment of an hour or two of your time every other year. Party’s decide how these meetings are run, so you should be able to find out by going to your party’s state or county websites. Whatever you find out, share it with like-minded friends to multiply the influence for good. 

Voting Information 2012 Primary
Primary Voting Day
Primary voting day in Texas is Tuesday, May 29th. The reason for the delay in voting relates to redistricting, which, because of the Voting Rights Act, requires Texas to present any voting changes for judicial review. The judicial review then led to appeal. And there was necessary time to have ballots ready to send to overseas servicemen. Early voting, from May 14-25, can be done at any county location. On May 29th voting must be done at your precinct location. You can verify your precinct voting location here  or watch the newspaper for a few days prior to voting day. Note that redistricting may have altered some precincts and other voting districts.

Registering to Vote
As always, you must register to vote at least 30 days prior to the voting day (so, by April 29th for voting day, or by April 12th for the beginning of early voting).
For information about registration, see the Secretary of State’s official site:
If you have previously voted in your current location, you are registered, but if you are uncertain, you can check here: .
If you have recently moved, turned 18, or earned citizenship, then you need to register. Voter registration cards can be found at public buildings, such as libraries, post offices, and DPS offices. Forms can also be downloaded from online: . You are required to fill out the form, print it out (if done online), and mail with appropriate postage to your county registrar’s office, address information here: .
Your voter registration card shows your precinct, your US Representative district, your State Senate district, your State Representative district, your Commissioner Precinct (Sheriff), your Justice Precinct, and your school district and city, where applicable. If you do not have your card, you can look up that information at the Secretary of State site. Note that redistricting may have changed what precinct or districts you are assigned to. You can also look up your sample ballot. Use an online search engine, such as Google, for “sample ballot <your county> <your party> primary 2012.”
Voter ID
Usually if you are previously registered, you will receive your updated voter registration card in the mail prior to the election. Because of the lateness of getting a primary voting date this year, it is possible that not all voters will receive their updated card. However, your previous registration card will show the same voter ID number, which will remain in the county computer system. That information can be accessed by using your voter ID number, your TX driver’s license number, or your full name.
Texas’s new Voter ID law is intended to require a photo ID, to make sure the person voting is indeed the legally registered voter and not an impersonator. This law is still under judicial review. It may be in effect by the November election. However, it is always helpful and acceptable to use a driver’s license or other specified photo ID for voting. For those without photo ID, a photo ID can be obtained for voting purposes only at no cost through DPS offices.
Precinct Meetings
Normally precinct caucus meetings are held on primary voting days, after the polls close, usually at the precinct voting location. At these meetings delegates are chosen for the district/county conventions of the various parties. Also propositions for the party platform are voted on and sent on to the next level.
This year the date change made it impossible to hold precinct conventions on voting day and still have time for district/county conventions prior to state conventions. So most Texas counties will not hold precinct meetings in 2012.
District and county conventions will be held on Saturday, April 21st in most counties, including Harris County. County party websites can give more detailed information, but in general it has been stated that all who are committed to a party will be welcome at the district/county conventions this year, rather than only those voted to be delegates in precinct meetings. Delegates to the state convention will be chosen from attendees at the district/county conventions. Also, platform propositions will be taken at the county/district conventions, since that opportunity was lost at the precinct level. Previous party platforms should be available for review at online state party websites.

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