Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Eve Wrangle

It is Monday, November 3, 2008. In less than 24 hours, the United States will have elected a new President and Texas will -- hopefully -- send Rick Noriega to the U.S. Senate as well as a host of new Texas legislators to Austin.

While we pause between the weekend's activities and tomorrow festivities, here is your Election Eve edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly roundup.

Bradley from North Texas Liberal lets us know that you should be careful not to lose your vote if you have to use an electronic voting machine, like TV personality Oprah Winfrey almost did.

jobsanger believes an avalanche of new voters could produce some surprises on Election Day, including the possibility that Georgia will turn blue, and even though an amazing 23% of Texans think Obama is muslim, a huge turnout in the urban areas and South Texas could produce some surprises in Texas. Early voting totals show this is happening.

Justin at AAA-Fund Blog is glad that 60% of Asian Americans polled in Harris County support the Democrats. He also is glad that voting this year was not a chore as it often feels. Justin urges everyone to support AAA-Fund's five Texas endorsees: Rick Noriega, Al Green, Nick Lampson, Hubert Vo, and Sandra VuLe.

It's been an exciting week for Democrats as chronicled by McBlogger; first up was Hank Gilbert asking a Cornyn staffer to take a walk from a Rick Noriega event. Then there was Texas Blogger (and current TPA Chair) Vince Leibowitz spanking the Mike McCaul campaign for their amateurish content theft. Finally, we at McBlogger received word that Dr. Dobson had traveled to the future and didn't like what he saw. Which is something you'll probably love.

Vince at Capitol Annex tells us how John Davis (R-Clear Lake) is sending out his wife to attack Netroots-backed candidate Sherrie Matula (D-Houston). In return, he opens Davis' own personal Pandora's Box and discloses Davis' shoddy record.

The Texas Cloverleaf notes that Barack Obama leads John McCain in fundraising in Denton County of all places! In nonpartisan news, while Obama is raising money, Ron Natinsky is spending it. The Dallas city councilman is spending your tax dollars on trinkets bearing his name. In shocking news, a 9 year old is electrocuted by a McCain-Palin yard sign. No, we couldn't make this stuff up if we wanted to.

After record breaking early voting in Williamson County, Eye On Williamson is ready for the general election. The HD-52 race has been the focus of attention this election cycle. The issues concerning the district's voters include the Trans-Texas Corridor, insurance reform, and the economy. No matter the issue, Diana Maldonado is the best choice in HD-52.

WhosPlayin looks at the early voting turnout in Texas' 26th congressional district, and thinks Ken Leach just might be able to upset incumbent Michael Burgess. And guess whether this incident of political suppression happened in Liberia or Texas. (Hint: it was Harris County, Texas.) Most of all, WhosPlayin wants Denton County residents to get to the polls and VOTE!

Off the Kuff takes his last looks at early voting, and makes fun of some whining by Republican enablers Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

El Paso is going Democratic in a big way. As El Paso goes so should South Texas. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is looking for a blue, blue Thanksgiving!

BossKitty at TruthHugger is laments pre-election jitters, Oh The Stress Of It All -- Op Ed, and how many years will it take to recover because, Divided We Fall.

Neil at Texas Liberal says to think about the future when you vote. Don't be like Galveston voters who in 1886, 14 years before the 1900 hurricane, voted no on building a seawall. Texas Liberal also offers up a post on how Texans have voted for President since 1948, and, finally, submits for your review some election predictions.

Over at TexasKaos, TxSharon tells us that somebody is finally looking at the Barnett Shale Gas Wells . It's called accountability and it's about time. And boadicea provides some excellent resources/talking points on the ACORN non-story. Give a look. Lastly, Txsharon kicks off a lively debate on the the training of 4000 troops in the use of non-lethal weapons for possible domestic use.

Texas politics is screwed up for at least two obvious reasons this week: because Tom Craddick has his debates sponsored by AT&T -- complete with a lobbyist on the panel, and because 23% of all Texans think Barack Obama is a Muslim. The sad details at Brains and Eggs.

Nat-Wu at Three Wise Men discusses the long tradition in the Republican of crying wolf about voter fraud in an effort to minorities from legitimately exercising their right to vote, and Xanthippas rips into anti-woman bloggers for brewing up a faux controversy over their DART bus ads.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


That's how many votes are in the bank in Harris County. And while OpenSourceDem in the previous post is still a little "skeptimistic", I am enthused about the ultimate results we will see Tuesday night:

More than 730,000 people voted early in Harris County, officials said, in a gusher of participation that rewrote the book for Tuesday's election and Texas politics beyond.

After shutting the doors Friday night on 12 days of early voting, officials said 678,312 citizens had voted at the county's 36 sites, and an additional 55,459 had returned completed mail ballots before Tuesday's deadline.

The combined figure of 733,771 equals about 37 percent of the county's registered voters and for the first time may be higher than the number who vote on Election Day for the offices of president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and several local positions.

A few more early votes may be added later to Friday's total; lines were so long at the Lone Star College site on Tomball Parkway in north Harris County and at other locations that voting was extended past 9 p.m. to accommodate voters who arrived by the 7 p.m. deadline, officials said.

No further in-person voting will take place before 7 a.m. Tuesday, when the doors open for 12 hours at the county's 728 polling places.

Predictions by County Clerk Beverly Kaufman and partisan strategists for Tuesday's turnout hover at or slightly below the amount of the early vote turnout.

A combined total of about 730,000 for early voting and 700,000 more on Tuesday would put total county turnout above 1.4 million, or 73 percent of all registered voters.

I just have to think that's too big for anybody to steal. Well, maybe they can steal it in West Virginia. Maybe in Ohio and/or Florida again. But even all that won't win it for them this time.

Vote Suppression -- The Next to Last Word from OpenSourceDem

Ed.note: OSD and I will be at the Harris County administration building Tuesday evening, observing Beverly Kaufman and staff count the vote, while you are out celebrating victory.

Harris County, Texas, leads the state and the nation in systematic, official vote suppression.

We are the benchmark: Hundreds of thousands of voters are impeded, tens of thousands ore obstructed, nearly a million are demoralized and self-excluded. Perpetual incumbents of both parties are indifferent to this. Elected Democratic public and party officials immediately responsible for and complicit in it are not held accountable for their ineffectuality.

Thus …

Exploiting the complexity of state and federal law, as well as poor design and unreliable operation of three (call them 'overlapping') voter registration database systems, tens of thousands of applicants routinely encounter rejections and data-entry errors that make it hard to get in the poll book on election day. Basically the burden of an unreliable “kludge” falls on the voter. Neither party -- deferential to incumbents with a vested interest in low-participation politics -- is much interested in these problems because they are “Too Technical!”

Further complicating matters, maintaining registration is very hard for those who move frequently; any combination of a young, poor, or non-white person most obviously. So, hundreds of thousands of registrants are in the book somewhere but chronically in a limbo status of “Suspense” or “ID” voter. Moreover, re-registering or completing a “Statement of Residence” form can actually make things worse by introducing more opportunity for data-entry error by the voter registrar or data retrieval error by the election clerks. This is especially acute for suburban voters who move between and among various counties in Texas. They can update their registration at the polls. Their update will go on the statewide voter roll. They will be dropped from the old county, but they will not be registered in the new county despite the new technology.

The only recourse running up to the election has been to “swamp and sweep”: Neither the Obama campaign nor the Harris County party has the right technical tools or enough legal recourse to do that well But, they have both used every resource they do have (a) to raise political participation and awareness generally, (b) to expose and discourage any clever, new or ad hoc vote suppression and (c) to expose and untangle whatever they can for motivated and patient voters. Hundreds of voters have gotten a full, limited, or provisional ballot that will count despite all the obstacles. Registration is up somewhat and turnout is way up.

That is as good as it is going to get in the absence of fundamental change to what is still, after 134 years, an effectively property-qualified franchise, now “credit-scored” but still administered pursuant to the Jim Crow Texas Election Code.

This sorry situation – crippling for the Democratic Party in any ordinary year -- has both a political and economic bias that hand-wringing over racism is now pretty much an excuse for ignoring. Yes, racial bias is almost as great a consequence as ever, but it is no longer a “root cause” of problems with voter registration in Texas. Our problem today goes way beyond race and threatens every citizen.

The root problem is economic discrimination. And that pervades, for instance, indirect and regressive taxation. So the serious problems are at the neglected core and not the controversial fringe of the legal, logistical, and technical foundations of voter registration, indeed of all Texas government.

The unifying and patriotic Obama campaign has a message of hope: “It is not about me, it is about you!” And it should translate into a message of change. The Texas Democratic Party in Austin ceded Texas to the GOP long ago, but not the Harris County courthouse, and not the Texas House. If and only if the built-in, refractory vote suppression here and there has been overcome temporarily in the course of this campaign, then something fundamental, something historic and irreversible can be done about it … starting next year.

And it starts with the election of Dr. Diane Trautman for Harris County tax assessor/collector.