Last week I lunched with Houston's political blogger nation -- Kuff, Neil, Stace, Martha, David and also Big Jolly -- and the traditional media, Rick Casey -- as well as representatives of the League of Women Voters (Christina Gorczynski) and Texans Together's Houston Votes project (Fred Lewis, Maureen Haver, Sean Caddle). Their goal is to register 100,000 modest- to low-income citizens of Harris County, and then get at least 50,000 of them back to the polls in November. A vigorously non-partisan affair, their mission is to give voice to the historically disengaged.
In Harris County, as you may already now, this is a sizable problem: the best estimates are that 600,000 eligible adult citizens are not registered to vote, and they are mostly disadvantaged minorities; Asian-American, Latino and younger voters along with those in the lower-income strata. Houston Votes conducted this work for the first time here in 2008, registering 24,000 and turning them back out to vote at a 65% clip (without any allegation of impropriety).
The door-to-door-canvassing is happening now. This mobilization is an added effort to their storefront registration drives (which was their only point of contact two years ago, thus the more ambitious registration goal this cycle). The HV project extensively trains all deputy voter registrars, carefully checks collected voter reg cards, and otherwise closely monitors the process. Once the registration deadlines passes they will call or contact at the door every person registered, encouraging them to vote and providing poll location information.
A couple of events around this effort:
-- Tonight, Thursday August 5, the Kickoff Party at Pearl Bar.
-- Saturday September 18, at the George R. Brown: the LWV will co-sponsor with the ASCE a candidate meet-and-greet for the public. Every single candidate on the Harris County ballot, from governor to precinct constable -- Democratics, Greens, Libertarians and Republicans -- have been invited to attend. After an early evening reception there are two debates currently on tap: candidates for county judge and tax assessor/collector will square off.
(Thanks to Big Jolly David Jennings for the comprehensive post -- despite his obvious misgivings -- as well as for many of the links I used here. His post on the LWV event is worth a click also.)