Dave McNeely

Dave McNeely

The echoes of the chaos in reporting the results in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Democratic caucus got national attention, including in Texas.

While Iowa struggles to get things straightened out from the Feb. 3 Iowa debacle, Texas Democrats wondered if their March 3 primary results would be available election night to apportion delegates reserved for the state’s 31 state senatorial districts.

In a briefing on Jan. 23, Democratic Party officials said the Texas Secretary of State’s office, which handles election data, indicated it might not be able to have the necessary data on election night to distribute the 149 of the 228 delegates available to the state’s 31 senatorial districts.

Glen Maxey, the former Austin state representative who is overseeing the Texas Democratic Party’s primary voting apparatus, said the state election officials had talked of limitations of their revamped voter reporting system, which tallies the votes from all 254 counties.

“They basically said that’s not built out yet,” Maxey told the Texas Tribune, indicating that the state would deviate from its traditional provision of the necessary data.

Democratic Party officials raised concerns the morning of Feb. 5.

On Feb. 5, Manny Garcia, Texas Democratic Party executive director, issued a statement that it would be a “violation of the public trust” if the Secretary of State’s office failed to report election results by Senate districts on election night.

“Texas is more important to presidential campaigns than ever before and could make or break campaigns,” Garcia said. “With one of the largest delegations, in one of the most diverse states in the country, Texas is the pathway to winning the Democratic nomination.”

Under the Democrats’ rules, 149 state convention delegates are reserved for the 31 state senate districts. Each district is awarded from two to 10 delegates, based on each district’s turnout for Democratic candidates for president in 2016 and governor in 2018.

Candidates must get at least 15% of the vote in a senate district to be eligible for delegates.

“The public deserves to see the vote and the delegate results on election night,” Garcia said, “and we urge the Texas Secretary of State’s office not to leave Texas voters and our nation in the dark.”

That seemed to get the attention of the Secretary of State’s office. A spokesman said later Feb. 5 that it would indeed have the results on time,The Tribune reported.

“Any allegations that delegate allocations will not be reported on, election night are categorically false,” said spokesman Stephen Chang.

We’ll see what happens after the polls close on March 3.

# # #

Democrats Announce Voter Protection program … The Texas Democratic Party says it is establishing a Voter Projection office, aimed at preventing current and potential voters from being shut out of the process.

“Texas Republicans have made it harder to vote at every turn, by implementing restrictive voting policies such as voter ID restrictions, shortening the days of early voting, closing polling locations, and attempting to purge lawful Texans from the voting rolls,” said a Feb. 6 press release from the party.

The Texas party is partnering with Fair Fight Action, a multi-state voter protection organization founded by Stacey Abrams, the African-American Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia in 2018.

Abrams, who was the African-American Democratic Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, said Republican officials had a concerted effort to keep Democrats, and African-Americans, from voting.

The Texas Democratic Party also named Rose Clouston as Voter Protection Director.

She previously was director of online trainings at the National Democratic Training Committee and a national coordinator for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law’s Election Protection program.

“I have spent my career expanding voters’ access to the ballot box,” Clouston said in an introductory email note. “And in 2020, I wanted nothing more than to dedicate myself to protecting voters in the biggest battleground state.”

Clouston said the efforts will include:

– A full-time voter protection team;

– A year-round voter assistance hotline where voters can get the information they need to register and vote (844-TX-VOTES);

MyTexasVotes.com – an online voter information hub where voters can learn more about voter registration, voter participation, and voter protection;

– A voter protection council of hundreds of Democratic volunteers;

– A poll-watching program.

The party also has an ambitious program to register 2.1 million new voters by November.

Can the Democrats reach their goals, including:

– Gaining nine seats needed to win control of the Texas House of Representatives?

– Winning a statewide office for the first time since 1994 – like upsetting Republican U. S. Sen. John Cornyn?

– Win the presidential election in Texas, for the first time since 1976?

Big goals. We’ll see how they do.

McNeely is the dean of the Texas Capitol press corps. Contact McNeely at davemcneely111@gmail.com or 512/458-2963.

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