5 Questions about Voting in the Primary
What should I expect when I check in at the polls during the Joint Primary Election?
When you go to the polls during the primary elections, you will be asked which party’s primary you would like to participate in. You have two options. Choose Democratic (or Republican, but we’re all Democrats here!) Your ballot will ONLY show the Democratic races that you are eligible to vote in (no Republican races.) Parties other than the two major ones might have candidates on the ballot in the November general election, but they have their own processes to choose their candidates.
Should I bring my Voter Registration Certificate to the primary?
If you show your postcard-sized Voter Registration Certificate at the polls during the primary, it may be stamped with your party affiliation. If you attend a county or state Democratic convention, this certificate is proof that you voted in the Democratic primary. (Your name will also be on a list of all voters who participated in the Democratic primary statewide.)
Pro tip: bringing your unexpired Voter Registration Certificate to the polls is always a good idea. Although you cannot currently use it as a primary form of ID to vote, it proves that you are registered and eligible to vote, in case a question about your eligibility were to come up. It has your unique VUID number, which can be used to look you up in the database of registered voters. Bringing your Voter Registration Certificate to the polls can save you time.
How do primary runoff elections work?
Many of the Democratic races in central Texas have several candidates running in the primary. Since a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote to advance to the general election in November, it is likely that some races will result in a runoff.
If you vote in the primary election, you must vote with the same party in the runoff election. No switching parties! There will be a record of which ballot you received in the joint primary election at the primary runoff election, and you will automatically get the ballot for that party again. You do not have to vote in the Joint Primary Election to vote in the runoff election. Mark your calendar: Primary Runoff Election Day is May 22.
How will my General Election ballot in November be different from my Joint Primary Election ballot in March?
In a general election in November, your ballot will reflect all the candidates from all parties in all the races you are eligible to vote in. (General elections also sometimes have tax propositions, state constitutional amendment questions, and other matters for voter consideration besides races for public office.)
How can I learn about the Democratic candidates in the Joint Primary Election?
All candidates have websites and a social media presence (like on Facebook and Twitter.) You can find out online about events where a candidate will appear, and go to those events to talk to the candidate and their supporters. (Our Primary Page has a list of those websites.)
Sometimes organizations hold candidate forums for specific races, where you can see all or most of the candidates at the same event. Some Democratic clubs have an endorsement process; you can check their websites and social media to find out what candidates they are supporting. The League of Women Voters Austin Area publishes a nonpartisan Voters Guide with questions they have asked of all candidates in every contested race. (This primary, you can find the Voters Guide at public library branches, or online at lwvaustin.org.)
Blue Action Democrats Member
Are you a Democrat who’s thinking of voting in the Republican primary?
It’s been said many times, but Texas is a non-voting state. When you consider that there are more non-voters who lean Democrat and combine them with actual Democratic voters, Republicans are a minority who’ve had an exclusive grip on political power in this state for nearly two decades.
How does this minority rule persist? By dividing the majority against itself. This happens when Democratic-leaning voters cross over to vote in the Republican primary. You’ve no doubt heard many people talk about doing this.
Here are four reasons why you should absolutely vote in the Democratic Primary.
1. Unicorns and Moderate Republicans
In an attempt to nominate a “less-worse” Republican, also called “block voting”, Democratic voters will cross over and vote for the more moderate Republican in the primary. By doing this, however, voters simply reinforce the perpetual grip of the far right. Look no further than far-right Tea Party members who have driven out moderate Republicans like Joe Straus and made Dan Patrick the most powerful politician in the state.
I desperately want two robust, sane political parties in Texas, but the Republican Party will never come back to sanity until they are more afraid to lose general elections to Democrats than they are of losing a Republican primary to a nutter. Why? Because the Republican Party in Texas will push even moderates rightward in order to win the Republican Primary.
Moderate Republicans are still going to vote with Republicans.
2. “But I won’t vote Republican in November…”
Some people rationalize their crossover vote in the Republican primary by saying they will vote for the Democrat in the November general election. But by then, it’s too late because crossing over to vote in the Republican primary makes it HARDER for Democrats to effectively compete in the general election.
That is because the best way to measure interest in an election is how many people vote in it. And interest drives momentum, which drives fundraising. “Block voting” artificially inflates Republican voting numbers, making it difficult for the Democratic nominee to build momentum and raise money.
3. Momentum Matters
A strong turnout in the Texas Democratic Primary on March 6th is essential to winning in November. A big showing in the primary will signal that this year really is different and that the #bluewave is building in Texas. Political science professor, Cal Jillson recently told the Houston Chronicle: “What the turnout looks like in the Texas primary will tell a lot about what lies ahead for Republicans and Democrats in 2018.”
What happens in March will set the narrative for Texas politics in 2018. The press and pundits are watching to see if the Blue Wave materializes.
This year is our best chance in a generation to elect more Democrats. There are great Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. And for the first time in 25 years, there are Democrats running in every single Congressional race in Texas, and nearly all of the Texas legislative races.
4. Open Primary Rules
Remember—an open primary in Texas means you cannot choose to vote for some Democrats and some some Republicans. You have to choose only the Democratic OR the Republican primary ballot. So crossing over to vote against Dan Patrick in the Republican primary will hurt all Democrats running in the many fiercely contested Democratic primary races.
If y’all really want to beat Dan Patrick and the rest of the Trump fan club in Texas, vote in the Texas Democratic Primary on March 6th to #buildthewave. And tell Independents and moderate Republicans fed up with their party to vote in the Democratic Primary, too.
That is how we bring political competition and SANITY back to the Lone Star State.
Now, sign up to block walk or join our next meeting on Feb 4 at 2pm at Mandola’s!
President, Blue Action Democrats
Thoughts from a Political Newbie
Last Sunday started out like any other - I woke up to the cat climbing on my face, the kids fought during breakfast, and everyone was “bored” by 9am. And then I remembered (with dread) that I was block walking for the very first time that afternoon.
What if I messed up what I was supposed to say? What if someone yelled at me? My nerves were out of control . . . and then I received a(nother) news alert on my phone containing the words “GOP” and I knew that my nerves were no match for what I needed to do.
So off I went, armed with my block walk packet, my 6’4” husband (so no one would yell at me) and our 10 year old daughter (so no one would yell at me).
And you know what? It was great!! People were kind and interested and excited that we were talking to Dems about voting. We heard quite a few colorful comments from neighbors about our current representatives and talked to some who didn’t even realize a primary was looming (it’s working!!). Everyone was excited to hear about Blue Action Dems and our plans for this election cycle and were even more excited to find out we will be hosting 15 candidates at our next meeting (February 4, 2-4pm at Mandola’s - shameless plug).
My husband even took his turn at the door and our daughter enjoyed carrying the clipboard and being an (un)official member of BAD. In the end, my anxiety and nerves were for nothing - it actually turned out to be a fun experience and I look forward to doing it again this weekend. Sign up here to join me.
So, don’t be afraid - we’ll do this together. Let’s Turn Texas Blue in 2018!!
BAD Secretary and political newbie
It's amazing how many of you have decided to join our group! Though we’ve seen overwhelming support we know some folks aren’t into “joining.”
One question I’ve heard is, “I like what you’re doing…..but why should I join?”
I think that’s a great question! Here’s my response:
Joining BAD helps support and drive our mission to get out the vote in Southwest Austin! Your contributions help us to:
Let’s do this!! Join us today.
Monica de Leon
PS - All members will receive a super cool sticker to remind them to GSD! Join us at our next meeting, February 4.